Missourians Still Need Immediate Relief Despite Drop in Covid-19 Cases and an Increase in Vaccinations

Within the next few weeks, the U.S. will be approaching one year of living in the worldwide pandemic of Covid-19. This past year has brought upon many devastating impacts on individuals and families throughout the nation. While we begin looking to the future with hope as the vaccine begins to be distributed, there still remains a substantial amount of unmet basic needs that require relief as soon as possible. We are looking to Congress and the Biden Administration for what comes next for Federal Covid-19 Relief. 

Missouri, along with the rest of the country, is facing an overwhelming amount of hardship through the need for housing and nutrition support. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports increased food insecurity within households with children, especially Black and Latino households. A survey from December 2020, shows that 12 million children live in a household where their families could not afford enough food for them to eat in the last 7 days. This starkly contrasts with a December 2019 survey finding 1.1 million children living in households where they were not receiving enough to eat at any point in the last 30 days. 

The most recent COVID-19 relief package that was signed into law in late 2020 began to address these needs by implementing an across the board 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits and providing rental and emergency assistance to help people keep their homes and fight against homelessness. Some of the provisions within that package are set to expire in June, but a new bill that the Biden Administration has put together plans to extend benefits and increase assistance for families. For example, it would extend the increase in SNAP benefits through September which would provide additional time for millions of families to recover. Additionally, the bill will extend the Pandemic EBT Program (P-EBT) and strengthen WIC. These provisions will continue to provide additional benefits to replace meals that children miss when school is virtual or childcare providers are closed. This bill would also assist housing needs by helping struggling families and people earning low wages, including many essential workers, afford their basic needs by temporarily expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for adults not raising children; making the Child Tax Credit fully available to the lowest-income families and enlarging the credit (which together would cut child poverty nearly in half); and making the stimulus payments larger and available to roughly 15 million more adult dependents.

If you are interested in learning more about these Federal Covid-19 Relief Packages, please join us as we dive deeper into this information at our upcoming Empowering You Webinar. We will be hosting this virtually on February 18 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. Speakers from the Food Research and Action Center and the National Low Income Housing Coalition give us up to the minute updates on what is happening in DC. We will also discuss how this plan will affect Missourians’ ability to access adequate food resources.  I hope you can join us. CLICK HERE to register. 

In Solidarity, 

Scarlett O’Shaughnessy
Empower Missouri Intern