How SNAP Needs to Change During the Pandemic

Even if Friday’s Heroes Act were passed, we’d still see a hunger spike. Here’s why.

Andrea Strong
Heated
Published in
8 min readMay 18, 2020

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People who rely on public food assistance and WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for low-income women, infants and children, have been required to personally shop at stores with their benefit cards, thus increasing their risks of contagion. Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

When Grisel Cardona, a single mother with three young children, tested positive for Covid-19, she feared for more than her life. She feared she would not be able to feed her children.

Cardona, who lives in the Bronx, was forced to leave her job to take care of her children, two of whom are autistic, and receives money for food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Since the start of the pandemic, she has been going to schools for grab-and-go meals and stopping at free, city-provided pantry boxes, but then she became too sick to leave the house.

“I didn’t feel well enough to go out and I didn’t want to go out and get people sick,” she said. “But being a single mom of three, what choice did I have?”

Covid-19 has hit low-income families like Cardona’s the hardest, and hunger has surged during the pandemic. A poll released by Hunger Free America found that among adults, 24 percent skipped meals or cut portions because they lacked enough money for food. That’s about two and a half times the adult hunger rate of 2018.

To compound the problem, food banks and food rescue organizations are shutting down because…

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Andrea Strong
Heated
Writer for

Andrea Strong is a journalist who covers the intersection of food, policy, business and law. She is also the founder of the NYC Healthy School Food Alliance.