Biden executive order increases funding for food-insecure students

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:16 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas families receiving pandemic-era federal food assistance for students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals are getting an increase in benefits.

The additional aid comes from an executive order signed by president Joe Biden last week. The executive order adds a 15% increase in benefits for parents with kids receiving free or reduced-price meals.

Brazos Valley Food Bank Programs manager Shannon Avila joined First News at Four to talk about what that means for local kids.

Avila says this really will make a huge difference for families struggling with their budget as their students learn at home. She says the meals provided by the school are absolutely essential and when the pandemic took those away, it put yet another unexpected burden on parents’ finances.

“In the Brazos Valley, somewhere around 19% of households are dealing with food insecurity,” Avila says.

She says one of the ways that the Brazos Valley Food Bank works to help those in need is by connecting them with the resources to apply for SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps. President Biden has signaled he would like to see an increase in SNAP benefits as well.

Foodbank officials across the state say they’ve seen a spike in food insecurity over the past few months. Avila says that’s not necessarily the case in the Brazos Valley.

“I think we’re seeing more of a depth of need,” Avila explains, “rather than a huge increase in the number of people who need food.”

She says one of the most difficult challenges has been identifying those in need and making sure they’re aware of all resources available to help them. Avila says those quarantining or limiting contact can also be difficult to reach.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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