HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— More money could be on the way to millions of Americans struggling with food insecurity.
On Friday, President Joe Biden signed more executive orders that could help lessen the intense strain on area food banks.
The president addresses the growing hunger crisis under the newly signed COVID Economic Relief Executive Order.
The White House says 29 million adults and at least eight million children are struggling with insecurity.
Senior Director of Advocacy for Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia Leah Williams-Rumbley described the onset of the pandemic as “mayhem” for the nonprofit and says it hasn’t really seen a decrease in numbers.
Local food banks in Virginia say they’ve seen unprecedented rises in food insecurity.
At the beginning of the pandemic, as many as three to four times as many people came to the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank than the previous year, according to CEO Karen Joyner
“Food banks are expecting the need to be fairly sustained through 2021. All those job losses are not going to all of a sudden reappear,” she explained.
President Biden is calling on Congress to extend the 15% SNAP benefit increase, also known as food stamps.
He’s also asking the USDA to consider three additional steps:
- Increase P-EBT benefits for school children by 15%— saying it could provide a family with three children more than $100 of additional support every two months
- Allow states to increase SNAP benefits for the poorest families
- Update how SNAP benefits are calculated to better reflect the modern cost of a healthy diet
“Folks have been relying on the charitable response, but the charitable response is not going to be as viable as increasing SNAP benefits and extending those benefits beyond the economic crisis,” said Williams-Rumbley.
Food banks say increased funding for SNAP is the only way struggling families get their needs met.
For every meal that a food bank provides, SNAP provides nine — making it a better resource for people in need and lending dignity to the process of getting food.
“If you're in line at one of our mobile pantries, or if you go to one of our partner agencies, you are given the food that we have and not necessarily what you yourself would choose if you were going to a grocery store."
The food banks say these actions aren’t a substitute for increased unemployment benefits and a higher minimum wage, but it’s a good start.