US senators from Virginia urge more food assistance during COVID-19

Mark Warner and Tim Kaine

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., left, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, following an event with the Senate Democratic Caucus to urge Republicans to support a “clean bill” to fund the Department of Homeland Security as that agencies budget expires later this week, in Washington. The […]

WASHINGTON (WAVY) — U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, of Virginia, joined other Senate lawmakers Wednesday to press Senate leadership to “support and strengthen” the SNAP program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senators signed a letter Wednesday that asks certain provisions to be included in the next coronavirus relief package, including:

  • “Increase the maximum SNAP benefit for all recipients by increasing the thrifty food plan by at least 15 percent to all households, which is equivalent to another $25 per person per month, or a little under $100 per month in food assistance for a family of four.
  • Increase the monthly minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30 to all households. This will go a long way in helping older Americans, single individuals, and family households keep food on the table.
  • Suspend the harmful rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would weaken SNAP eligibility and benefits at time when Americans need SNAP assistance.
  • Provide additional options and investments to support delivery for SNAP participants.”

“Given the unprecedented disruption to the economy, income and employment with more than 17 million Americans filing unemployment benefit claims, an expanded and strengthened SNAP can serve as a buffer for families who are now at risk of food insecurity and are struggling to make ends meet during this national health crisis,” the senators wrote. 

This week, the United States Department of Agriculture formally approved Virginia’s request to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which the senators also pushed for.

The full letter sent Wednesday is available here.

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