The weekly $600 bonus to unemployment benefits, a lifeline for more than 40 million jobless Americans, expired Friday leaving more people at risk for food insecurity.
A staggering 12,000 people per day could die from hunger fueled by the coronavirus health crisis by the end of the year, according to a recent report from Oxfam, a nonprofit that fights poverty. What's more, an analysis by Feeding America, which runs the country's biggest network of food banks, projects the food-insecure population in the U.S. could increase from 37 million to 54 million this year in the wake of COVID-19. Now, with unemployed Americans losing out on essential living benefits, providing meals for families could become increasingly challenging.
“To help people facing food insecurity and prevent the economy from falling deeper into crisis, we need to put resources into the hands of the people most likely to spend them," Kate Leone, chief government relations officer at Feeding America, told FOX Business in a statement Friday. "We know that many of the individuals losing increased unemployment insurance benefits will need help putting food on the table,”
A leading Republican proposal would cut the unemployment benefit from $600 a week to $200 through September and pay unemployed Americans 70 percent of their previous salary. Democrats, meanwhile, in May passed a $3.4 trillion bill led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that would extend the $600 weekly unemployment benefit through next year. However, the vote on the bill was blocked by the GOP Thursday. President Trump supported a temporary extension of federal unemployment benefits on Thursday, but the Senate adjourned for the weekend.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the already alarming food crisis in America. The World Food Programme estimates the number of people without adequate access to food could rise to 270 million before the end of the year, an 82 percent increase since 2019.
“The single best way to address food insecurity at a time like this is to increase SNAP benefits. This efficient and targeted assistance helps families immediately and generates spending in local communities,” Leone said.
Americans in need of food assistance can use the food bank locator on the feedingamerica.org website using their ZIP code.