As economic uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic continues, food insecurity remains unacceptably high. Hardship is particularly sharp among Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people, and families with children are especially impacted. New federal legislation signed into law by President Biden brings much needed relief to millions including in Nebraska.
These are the provisions in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act related to food security:
- The existing 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits from December’s relief package (that was slated to expire in June, likely before the economy has recovered and while food insecurity remains high) is extended through September 2021. In Nebraska, the 15% SNAP increase will support an additional $13M over the 3 month extension period with 72% of those dollars supporting families with children.
- The Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program, which provides grocery benefits to replace meals that children miss when they do not attend school or child care in person, is will continue through the summer and through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The Act also provides funds to modernize the WIC nutrition program for low-income women, infants, and children; support innovative service delivery; conduct robust outreach; and temporarily raise the amount of fruit and vegetables that participants can get.
- Increased federal resources for state administrative costs to help states accommodate the increased demand for SNAP.
Other provisions in the Act will support food security indirectly including another round of direct cash assistance, an increase and expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, support for health coverage, housing assistance, and unemployment benefits.
If you are currently participating in SNAP, you won’t have to do anything to receive the 15 percent increase. Additionally, as long as Nebraska requests and is approved for SNAP emergency allotments, you will receive both maximum allotments and the 15 percent increase as long as they are available automatically.
If you feel you might be eligible for SNAP, reach out to the Food Bank of Lincoln’s SNAP hotline to check eligibility and apply at 855-444-5556.
Tens of thousands of Nebraskans continue to struggle because of the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan Act sets us up for a stronger and more equitable recovery.