We are living in a complicated time. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense pain for families, employers and our state’s economy.
One of the most distressing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of families going without food. As a member of the Board of Directors of Hunger Free Colorado for the past five years, I pay close attention to food security in our state, and the situation is dire.
Rates of food insecurity have tripled since last year. According to a recent survey by Hunger Free Colorado, more than one in three Coloradans report worrying about providing food for their families, including 23% of parents who reported having to cut back on their children’s meals to make ends meet.
As a Republican and fiscal conservative, I support policies that truly help people get back to work and have long-term impacts to ensure progress. Until now, we have seen short-term responses. With more than 10% of Coloradans unemployed, now is the time to focus on getting people ready to return to work, and that means making sure they are food secure.
Like my Republican colleague U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, I support a 15% increase in benefits for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This increase will help families buy the food they need for their health and to get ready for work in a post-COVID world. It will also mean dollars for our state’s retailers to help employ thousands of Coloradans, and a boost for our economy. SNAP has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms available both to reach low-income households and to provide help in recessions. Economists rate SNAP expenditures as one of the most effective supports for the economy during downturns, with an estimated $1.67 in economic activity generated for every dollar a family uses.
I am not alone in thinking SNAP is one investment that would help our state. I applaud Gardner’s support of this policy and urge him and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to continue to push this forward with their Senate colleagues.
We should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in economically responsible ways, which includes a 15% increase in SNAP benefits.
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