May 05, 2020

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bill to Expand, Strengthen SNAP Food Assistance

The bill is a companion to legislation introduced in the Senate by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse introduced legislation which would increase the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit by 15 percent and ensure economic stability for millions of vulnerable Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and future economic downturns.

In addition to the 15 percent benefit increase overall and a minimum monthly increase to $30 per recipient, the bill would provide additional funding for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and eliminate work requirements during recessions. It would also ensure the use of broad-based categorical eligibility, so people who qualify for other programs to assist low-income households would be categorically eligible for SNAP, without having to file additional burdensome paperwork, ensuring that more vulnerable families can access SNAP benefits, even outside of a crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious deficiencies in our ability to protect the most vulnerable of our society during economic crises,” said Congressman Neguse. “I am proud to introduce this critical legislation that will provide immediate assistance to SNAP recipients and remove cumbersome obstacles that put undue hardship on people who are really struggling. I am also proud to join with Senator Bennet and to see Colorado leading the way in protecting the food insecure and the unemployed in our state and across the nation.”

“As the COVID-19 crisis has so clearly brought to light, we are doing too little to provide a basic safety net for the millions of struggling families across the country,” said Senator Bennet. “Our plan expands food assistance and eliminates barriers to accessing that necessary assistance when the economy is deteriorating like it is today and increases access permanently across the nation. As the harmful impact of this pandemic on our economy continues, we must act urgently to provide nutritional assistance to our nation’s most vulnerable families, and particularly our children. We should never allow the kind of severe hardship we are seeing in America today, with our food banks strained to a breaking point as families wait in line for hours on end just to be able to eat.”

“In this time of uncertainty we need Congress to act to ensure all families can get the food they need,” said Marc Jacobson, CEO of Hunger Free Colorado. “SNAP is a proven program that has helped millions of families through past recessions. We are thankful to have Representative Neguse and Senator Bennet working on this proposal, and urge their colleagues to include it in the next relief package for our country as we continue to cope with this crisis. A 15% increase to the SNAP program until people are employed again is a smart response that helps families facing economic insecurity and boosts our local economies.” 

“Our economy is in crisis and families are struggling to make ends meet. That's why SNAP, one of our nation's most effective social assistance programs and stimulus programs, is vital right now,” said Arnab Datta of Employ America. The Food for Families in Crisis Act is a well-designed plan to increase benefits and access during recessions and, most importantly, it maintains these changes until the economy recovers. Additionally, the permanent changes to broad-based categorical eligibility permanently increase access and reduce administrative burden for families and states. Congress should include this proposal in the next stimulus legislation.”

“In these unprecedented times, communities need all options available to fight hunger,” said Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “One of the most efficient ways to feed hungry kids during a pandemic is by ensuring that their families have sufficient resources.  Strengthening SNAP will help struggling families weather this crisis and help our economy rebound from it.”

The largest food assistance program in the country, SNAP offers stability and food security to nearly 20 million households with almost 40 million people. With unemployment rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions more Americans will need access to this security. A Moody’s Analytics study found that every dollar increase in SNAP benefits during the Great Recession in 2008 generated roughly $1.70 of economic activity.

View text of the bill here.