Louisiana is facing a hunger crisis. An estimated 15% of Louisiana households, including 20% of households with children, are currently experiencing severe food insecurity, meaning that they actively do not have enough to eat. Many businesses & schools remain closed or with abbreviated operations and food prices are the highest they’ve been in 50 years. In a recent survey of SNAP recipients in the South, 45% reported eating less food and 35% reported skipping a meal to cope with the effects of the pandemic and stay afloat. In Southwest Louisiana, Hurricane Laura destroyed vital infrastructure and thousands of homes forcing thousands of Louisianans to evacuate and leaving more than 600,000 households without power.
Throughout the pandemic and now as we recover from Hurricane Laura, Louisiana communities are struggling to make ends me and keep food on the table while the need for assistance continues to rise. Food banks cannot meet this need alone, we urge Congress to act on a swift & comprehensive COVID-19 relief package.
Feeding Louisiana strongly supports the following components of the revised HEROES act:
> Temporarily increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent from November 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.
> Temporarily increases the SNAP minimum benefit from $16 to $30.
> Temporarily prevents students from losing SNAP eligibility due to work study or job loss during the pandemic.
> Provides $450 million for TEFAP food purchases available through September 30, 2021.
> Provides funds to school food authorities to support financial challenges due to lost revenue from lower than expected meal service.
> Provides $500 million for Older Americans Act senior nutrition programs including home-delivered and congregate meals.
We ask that our nation’s leaders strengthen and protect our national food assistance system through these components listed above, in order to help us meet this unprecedented need.
In the communities we serve, it is clear that the pandemic is not over. While we are heartened by the inclusion of these vital programs in the revised HEROES act, Louisiana households and the Louisiana economy will continue to struggle until they receive additional relief. Louisiana needs action from Congress now.