President Joe Biden signed an executive order last month to expand food assistance programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT).
The order, signed on Friday, January 22, 2021, is aimed at increasing the amount of aid people are eligible for, as well as providing more emergency benefits to those in need during the pandemic. Here’s a closer look at how these programs have been affected.
Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT)
P-EBT, established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March 2020, helps low-income families with school-age children by providing them with money to replace meals they lost access to at the onset of the pandemic due to school and childcare closures.
The program capped P-EBT benefit amounts at $5.86 per child per school day, while many households even had trouble claiming the benefits at all. The Biden administration’s executive order will boost the program’s benefits by approximately 15%.
“The boost will provide additional critical resources to keep our children nourished and healthy,” said Kate Leone, Feeding America’s Chief Government Relations Officer, in a press release.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Last spring, states were allowed the flexibility to provide extra, emergency SNAP food benefits to our neighbors in need in the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. Unfortunately, the law was interpreted to exclude around 37% of SNAP households with the lowest incomes who already received the maximum benefit. Biden’s executive order will review state’s authority to seek out options to give these families an increase.
Additionally, SNAP benefit allotments were increased by 15% for the first six months of 2021 in early January. Biden's executive order will extend that period through September of this year.
Another executive order from the Biden Administration, signed February 2, 2021, initiates a review of former-President Donald Trump’s public charge rule. Under the rule, the federal government could deny entry and a green card to immigrants who may be reliant on public assistance, like SNAP. That means accessing food assistance through SNAP would threaten an individual’s lawful residency and citizenship. It is expected Biden begins the process to reverse the rule this week.
At Feeding Westchester, we advocate for our hungry neighbors to get the food they need to keep going. To help, please donate at FeedingWestchester.org/donate.