Crucial relief is on the way thanks to the America Rescue Plan Act

Crucial relief is on the way thanks to the America Rescue Plan Act

 

by Jessica Dietrich, Policy and Government Relations Manager, Hunger Free Oklahoma

 

March 12, 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress March 10th, will help the thousands of Oklahomans struggling to put food on the table. According to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, Oklahoma’s food scarcity rate, the more extreme end of food insecurity, has been consistently higher than the national average since the beginning of the pandemic.1
Recent data from February to March 2021 shows Oklahoma’s food scarcity rate was at a dismal 15.3% while the national average was at – a still very unacceptable – 10.5%. 2 The American Rescue Plan Act brings new hope to Oklahoma families facing hardship and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The relief package contains a number of critical food security and anti-poverty provisions, including:

  1. An extension of the 15% SNAP benefit boost through September 2021
  2. Additional funding to expand SNAP online purchasing to more retailers
  3. An extension of the P-EBT program through the duration of the federal public health emergency
  4. Opportunities for temporarily increasing the value of WIC vouchers
  5. Funding to support WIC outreach, innovation, and modernization
  6. Additional funding for senior nutrition programs
  7. Funding for K-12 schools
  8. Expansions in the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit
  9. An additional round of economic impact payments (stimulus checks)
  10. Increased housing assistance for renters and homeowners
  11. Extended unemployment benefits
  12. Aid for state, tribal, and municipal governments

The provisions of this package help our neighbors right here in Oklahoma. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 94% of Oklahoma children under 18 will benefit from the Child Tax Credit expansion.3 Additionally, the average SNAP benefit boost will be an additional $26/person for low-income families, with 71% of the funds benefitting households with children.4

As we collectively reflect on what the past year has meant for our neighbors and our own families, it is important that we recognize how far we have come – thanks to federal, systems-level action combined with community-level innovation, partnership, and response – and how far we still have to go. This relief package is sure to relieve some of the stress families have been facing and provide renewed hope for what this next year of our lives holds.

 

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