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10/13/2023 Morales to reintroduce bill to boost SNAP benefits
STATE HOUSE – As the Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s 2023 Hunger Survey shows 70% of Rhode Island households that depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) run out of their monthly benefits in only two weeks, Rep. David Morales is preparing to reintroduce his legislation to increase SNAP benefits.

“There is no question that hunger is a serious issue across our state as we have working families and seniors who are constantly struggling to put food on the table. As noted by the R.I. Food Bank’s survey, 7 out of every 10 households exhaust their SNAP funds before the month is halfway over. Therefore, it is clear that our current SNAP benefits are not doing enough to prevent hunger as nearly half of survey respondents also reported the need to make difficult decisions between paying for their necessities of groceries, rent or utilities,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “Addressing this hunger crisis must be a top priority for our state, which will in fact, require state-level investments because the approach of solely depending on the federal government to fund and support people’s SNAP benefits is not sustainable.”

Under the 2020 Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the federal government increased SNAP benefits for qualifying households by an average of $95 per month. That funding contributed to nationwide reductions in child hunger and poverty. Those extra federal benefits expired March 1.

This year, Representative Morales sponsored legislation (2023-H 5799) that would have  directed the Department of Human Services to offset the loss of the additional benefits by increasing the monthly SNAP allotment to families by an additional $95 per month from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2023.

Representative Morales pledged to introduce similar legislation when the 2024 legislative session begins in January.

In Rhode Island, the average monthly household SNAP benefit is $315, or $78.75 per week. The survey found that 68% of households responding say they need more – about $98 a week more.

The Hunger Survey, which the food bank last conducted in 2019, before the pandemic, also found that 79 percent of those receiving SNAP live at or below the federal poverty line, which is an annual income of just $19,720 for a household of two. That figure jumps to 90% of those households that include children. Additionally, nearly a quarter of those responding reported living in temporary housing, and 23% reported moving in with another household because of their inability to afford their own home.

“While our state’s housing crisis is well-known, we need to recognize that hunger is also at a critical level. These are absolute basic human needs, and far too many Rhode Islanders are suffering because their needs aren’t being met. Now is the time we do better by committing state investments toward SNAP benefits,” said Representative Morales.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923