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Letter: Senate needs to address hunger amid pandemic

Letter: Senate needs to address hunger amid pandemic

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, hunger has increased dramatically in the United States. A recent study by the Brookings Institute found that the child hunger rate is three times higher than during the Great Recession. North Dakotans have responded with compassion and generosity to help our neighbors in need, but the need isn’t going away. In fact, things seem to be getting worse.

We need all hands on deck to combat the “hunger crisis” caused by COVID-19. Bread for the World, a bipartisan Christian advocacy group, is calling for a 15% increase to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) maximum benefits. As a longtime member of Bread, I am encouraged to see U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle speak up in support of increasing SNAP, including Sens. Fischer of Nebraska and Grassley of Iowa.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is one of the country’s most cost-effective anti-hunger program, and SNAP benefits are one of the fastest forms of economic stimulus. An increase in SNAP benefits also enables families with low-incomes to purchase more nutritious foods which can help their immune systems fight off infections like COVID-19. Healthier children and adults means lower medical costs for clinics, hospitals and taxpayers.

In other words, by increasing SNAP, we help hungry families, support our local economy and strengthen the health of our community. Given his committee assignments, Sen. Hoeven will play an important role in SNAP negotiations. I hope you will join me in urging him to push for a SNAP increase in the next COVID-19 legislation.

Rev. Martin Toepke-Floyd, Jamestown

First United Methodist Church

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