Families First Coronavirus Response Act Includes Critical Support for Food Programs

 Last week, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law by President Trump. The bill, which passed with strong bipartisan support, is an important step toward ensuring people are able to put food on the table and stay safe during the COVID-19 emergency. In addition to promoting food security for low-income and vulnerable people, the bill provides paid leave to many workers, provides additional funding for unemployment insurance, and establishes free testing for COVID-19. 

The bill’s most important provisions related to food assistance include:
– New state authority to provide SNAP benefits to households with children who attend a school that’s closed and who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals.
– Broad new USDA flexibility to approve state plans to (1) provide emergency SNAP benefits to participating SNAP households to address temporary food needs, and (2) adjust their SNAP operations and procedures to help states manage their workload under current conditions.
– Temporary nationwide suspension of SNAP’s three-month time limit on benefits for adults under age 50 without children in their home.
– Added flexibility for schools and child care providers that are closed, as well as community-based organizations, to offer meals to children while allowing for social distancing.
– New flexibility in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) for states to seek waivers of rules that would impede enrolling and serving families remotely while WIC clinics are closed.
– Funding for additional commodity purchases for emergency food programs and increased funding for the nutrition assistance block grants in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands.

For more information on H.R. 6201, please visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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