December 21, 2020
Examining Nutrition Assistance in the Latest Coronavirus Aid Package
Included in the latest COVID-19 relief legislative package is a continuation of additional nutritional assistance. In a new analysis, AAF’s Director of Human Welfare Policy Tara O’Neill Hayes looks at the nutritional assistance provisions and estimates their cost. Many families are facing myriad challenges during the pandemic as well as potential long-term consequences from food insecurity, she notes, and these benefits will help to alleviate some of those challenges.
The ongoing pandemic has brought significant financial hardship to millions of families and individuals across the country. One of the key challenges resulting from lost income is the ability to adequately feed oneself or one’s family. Millions of households report sometimes or often not having enough food. Food insecurity can cause a number of health challenges and makes learning more difficult (at a time when learning is already more challenging regardless of access to food). Congress provided enhanced nutrition benefits through various programs at the start of the pandemic, including a 30 percent increase in SNAP benefits through the end of this year. Now, Congress is extending some nutritional assistance, although the SNAP benefit enhancement will be reduced to 15 percent from January through June 2021. It is estimated that these extra benefits will cost $5 billion, for a total SNAP benefit cost of $40.2 billion in the first half of 2021.