Today, President Biden directed the United States Department of Agriculture to expand nutrition assistance to hard-hit families across the nation. Thanks to the President's executive actions, the Department has announced that they will increase Pandemic-EBT benefits by 15% and take additional steps to pave the way for a future SNAP/CalFresh benefit boost.
Based on participation in the program to date, today's actions are anticipated to eventually bring more than $200 million dollars in additional Pandemic EBT benefits to over 3.7 million California children. Pandemic EBT is a federal disaster response program administered in California by the California Department of Social Services. The program is intended to support children who have lost access to free or reduced price school meals due to pandemic related school and child care closures. Specific details regarding how and when the benefit boost will be rolled out in California are not yet available.
The Department also announced today that they are exploring options to further increase SNAP/CalFresh benefits. This includes working with the Department of Justice to examine whether or not they have the authority to expand Emergency Allotments to the program's lowest income beneficiaries. It is estimated that over one million SNAP/CalFresh-eligible households in California never received an emergency allotment, because their income was so low that they already qualified for the maximum benefit. Additionally, the Department has committed to jump starting the process to revise the outdated Thrifty Food Plan which serves as the basis for determining SNAP/CalFresh benefits.
Nourish California commends the Biden Administration for taking swift action to address hunger. Pandemic EBT and SNAP/CalFresh have been critical supports to Californians during the pandemic, but the benefit amounts to date have not been enough to address the true scope and scale of harm from COVID-19. Todays actions will help, but additional congressional action is still needed. We urge congress to act fast to help fill in remaining gaps and provide additional COVID-19 relief to Californians with diminished access to food.