Recognizing the Need for Expanding Eligibility and Increasing Benefit Levels of Federal Nutrition Programs

Adopted at the 90th Annual Meeting in 2022

  • WHEREAS, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased economic hardship across the United States, compelling families to make difficult decisions and tradeoffs as they worry about how to afford food; and

    WHEREAS, during the pandemic, many households turned to federal nutrition programs for the first time, and households with already low incomes found themselves depending even more on federal nutrition programs to meet their nutrition needs; and

    WHEREAS, current expanded eligibility and increased benefit levels are temporary and will end soon after the COVID-19 public health emergency ceases, leaving millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet; and

    WHEREAS, for millions of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, this will mean a decrease of $82 per person per month when SNAP emergency allotments tied to the public health emergency end; and

    WHEREAS, as families make difficult decisions around affording food, medications, housing, and more, increased food insecurity will likely lead to adverse health outcomes, creating additional burdens on our already strained healthcare systems; and

    WHEREAS, the decrease in SNAP benefits will also reduce economic activity and hurt grocery stores and local food businesses that have been serving our residents throughout the pandemic; and

    WHEREAS, increased food insecurity will also put additional strain on the non-profit emergency food organizations that have faithfully served our residents but are experiencing donor fatigue and supply chain challenges; and

    WHEREAS, the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021 (H.R. 4077/S. 2192) would improve SNAP access and benefit amounts, including by replacing the Thrifty Food Plan with the Low-Cost Food Plan as the basis for calculating SNAP allotments; and

    WHEREAS, the Enhanced Access to SNAP (EATS) Act of 2021 (H.R. 1919/S. 2515) would permanently increase access to SNAP for college students by removing SNAP work requirements for people attending college at least half time; and

    WHEREAS, the Improving Access to Nutrition Act of 2021 (H.R. 1753) would end time limits on SNAP eligibility, which will support food security for people seeking full-time work; and

    WHEREAS, the Lifting Immigrant Families Through Benefits Access Restoration (LIFT the BAR) Act of 2021 (H.R. 5227) would increase immigrant access to healthcare and nutrition assistance by eliminating the five-year bar for access to Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program; and

    WHEREAS, the Making Essentials Available and Lawful (MEAL) Act of 2021 (H.R. 2837/S. 2667) would remove restrictions on SNAP and TANF for people with prior drug felony convictions and allow incarcerated persons to apply for SNAP and TANF prior to release; and

    WHEREAS, the ASSET Act of 2021 (H.R.3822/S. 1809) would help low-income households with modest savings continue to receive assistance by eliminating asset limits in SNAP, TANF, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and raising asset limits in the SSI program;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors expresses its full support of expanding eligibility and increasing benefit levels of federal nutrition programs, to lift millions of Americans out of poverty or reduce the baleful effects of poverty during this challenging time.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to consider and vote for the referenced bills to promote food security and equity in our cities and the nation, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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