SNAP

The White House

After a majority Senate vote, Tom Vilsack is now reprising the role of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He said during a news conference that one of his biggest priorities is responding to the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, food insecurity has increased in many parts of the country. To address this, President Biden signed an executive order to increase SNAP benefits by 15%.

The president also wants to enhance Pandemic-EBT, an electronic debit card program for students who otherwise would have qualified for free or reduced-price meals at their local schools.

President Biden plans to sign an executive order on Friday that would increase food stamp benefits to help people going hungry amid the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, his top economic adviser, Brian Deese, told reporters.

Biden has already proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package to Congress that includes direct payments and other types of aid for people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. In the meantime, he is directing his administration to take steps to tweak programs to try to provide some assistance.

AMY MAYER / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

While president-elect Joe Biden has been under pressure to choose a very diverse and forward-thinking cabinet, he’s gone back in time for his nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture.

A federal judge has vacated the Trump administration's rule that would have forced hundreds of thousands of Americans off food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's rule change was capricious and arbitrary, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said.

The USDA rule "radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice," Howell said in her ruling, adding that it would have "exponentially" increased food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans and imposed significant costs on states.

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell of Washington, D.C., called a Trump administration plan to end food stamps for 700,000 Americans “arbitrary and capricious,” especially in light of a pandemic that has caused unemployment to quadruple.

The Trump administration had originally sought to eliminate food stamps for able-bodied adults with no dependents.

Host Peter O’Dowd talks with Ed Bolen, senior policy analyst at the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

With COVID-19 continuing to spread, and millions of Americans still out of work, one of the nation's most urgent problems has only grown worse: hunger.

The Trump administration has been celebrating an initiative that buys food from farmers and distributes it through charitable organizations such as food banks. "I'm proud to announce that we will provide an additional $1 billion to fund the Farmers to Families Food Box program. It's worked out so well," President Trump told a cheering crowd on Aug. 24 in North Carolina.

A federal judge has issued an injunction blocking the Trump administration from adopting a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The rule change was set to take effect April 1.

In a ruling issued Friday evening in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell called the rule change capricious, arbitrary and likely unlawful.

Two pending rule changes meant to reduce what the Trump administration calls abuse of federal benefit programs could also mean hundreds of thousands of children lose access to free school meals.

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