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Congress Needs To Do More To Support Families

To The Reader’s Forum:

Our organizations are working to help families put food on the table. However, we cannot do this work alone. The only way to ensure no one goes hungry during, and after, the coronavirus crisis is through stronger government investment in our federal nutrition programs, namely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

While organizations like FeedMore WNY, Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Foodlink are doing what we do best — feeding people in crisis — we are struggling to keep up due to a “perfect storm” of complications: a rapid rise in demand combined with a weakened food supply chain.

Our organizations have distributed an average of 48% more food due to this pandemic. We have had to adapt the way we distribute food to keep our community members safe and as healthy as possible. Each week, we see an increased need. However, we cannot expect food banks to completely shoulder the task of feeding our nation’s most vulnerable citizens during one of its greatest times of need. SNAP is proven to address food insecurity in times of need, and its strength is unparalleled. In fact, for every meal food banks provide, SNAP provides nine.

We know that Rep. Tom Reed wants to focus on supporting working people. Of the 37,903 families that depend on SNAP in the 23rd Congressional District, 70% are working, according to the USDA. These households desperately need help, which is why Congress should increase SNAP benefits by 15% so we can help feed these struggling families.

SNAP is also an economic multiplier. When families receive SNAP benefits to purchase groceries, those dollars are spent locally and stimulate local economies. Increasing SNAP benefits today will help ease any economic downswing that is sure to come. The Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the most cost-effective ways to boost economic growth and create jobs in a weak economy.

Congress and the administration have already passed legislation that includes some much-needed support. However, they need to do more to help struggling families. We call on our lawmakers to increase SNAP benefits in any upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation for the duration of the economic downturn. These extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary help.

Tara A. Ellis, President & CEO, FeedMore WNY

Natasha R. Thompson, President & CEO, Food Bank of the Southern Tier

Julia Tedesco, President & CEO, Foodlink

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