Millions of families across the United States could be in danger of going hungry as soon as next year unless Congress acts to boost federal food assistance funding, according to a report published Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The report, titled “As COVID-19 Drives Hunger Up, Food Aid May Run Too Low,” highlights the massive shortfalls in federally-funded nutrition assistance due to the economic fallout sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. It estimates that between three and five million families — including close to two million children — may be unable to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), School Meals Programs and other nutrition assistance programs due to increased demands, diminishing resources and the expiration of an emergency treatment package passed in March that boosted the programs’ budgets.
According to the report, the existing funding levels will mean a decrease in food aid for many households, with families in 20 states expected to receive up to 32 percent less in SNAP benefits than they did before the pandemic. The decrease in aid could force more families to rely on food banks, which are already running low on resources due to dramatic increases in demand.
If action is not taken, the report says, “millions of low-income households, including children and elderly Americans, may find that they can’t access vital nutrition assistance at a time when food insecurity has risen to historically high levels.” It urges Congress to act quickly to ensure that families have access to the assistance they need.