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Bill to extend food stamp benefits during pandemic goes to vote on Wednesday

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — Low-income families in the US will face tougher choices starting Wednesday.

“It’s one thing for us to be disappointed because we didn’t go to the store and buy the cake we wanted, or we may not have been able to buy all the products we wanted,” Together Omaha president and CEO said. , Mike Hornacek. “But it’s a different story when you can’t put food on the table for your family and your kids are hungry or you have to skip meals. This is completely different”.

Fortunately, in the short term, Nebraska and Iowa families don’t have to worry about losing extra benefits that have helped them survive job loss and inflation since the start of the COVID pandemic.

In Nebraska, for example, money for the Supplemental Food Assistance Program was extended by a unicameral committee until the end of September. LB84 will determine what happens then.

“This was a law that was passed during the pandemic to give additional access to families who were struggling during the pandemic,” said Hornachek. “Unfortunately, as we know now, the level of food insecurity is the highest ever, even after the pandemic, whether it is due to inflation and many other things, so this law is critical.”

Together provides food assistance to more than 140,000 people each year, and is just one of many public works programs that are already trying to help those in need.

“Over the past two to three years, we have had a lot of additional funding to help our communities and ensure people have access to healthy and nutritious food and safe and affordable housing,” said Hornachek. “We’ve kept everyone afloat so the casualties don’t skyrocket and stuff like that, and we’re facing a very harsh reality right now where we still have an unprecedented need.”

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities ranks SNAP as the most important and effective national program to fight hunger. The Douglas County Department of Health estimates that nearly 13% of people living in Omaha and Council Bluffs are food insecure. 8% are eligible for SNAP assistance in the state, the vast majority of them are families with children, the disabled and the elderly. It is estimated that the SNAP program lifts, on average, about 32,000 people above the poverty line in Nebraska each year, including 17,000 children.

“We need to be more innovative, we need to be more creative, and we need to find more sustainable long-term solutions,” said Hornacek. “But the people we serve every day don’t really want to hear about long-term sustainable solutions. [They] want to know how they’re going to feed their family tonight, and they want to know where they’re going to sleep.”

Hornacek says that if some form of LB84 doesn’t get through the unicameral parliament, an estimated 10,000 Nebraska residents will lose their SNAP benefits at the end of September.

A total of 32 states have extended COVID-era fringe benefits, but when the epidemic status expires on May 11, some will see those benefits end as well. 42 million Americans receive SNAP assistance in this country, most of them working families.

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