Food and Nutrition Programs
This page will be updated continuously to reflect the most recent information. This page was last updated on December 29, 2020.
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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (COVID relief law) provide supplemental funding for several health and nutrition programs to prevent, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The CARES Act includes $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP to ensure that all Americans receive the food they need. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also provides flexibility to waive SNAP program requirements to increase access.
The COVID relief lawprovides a 15 percent increase to monthly SNAP benefits for January through June 2021, and extends SNAP eligibility to college students who are eligible for a federal or state work study program or for certain types of federal student aid. The bill also excludes Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from being counted toward household income for SNAP benefits and eligibility for the month of receipt and the following 9 months.
For more information on accessing SNAP benefits in Hawaii, please visit this website.
Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP)
The COVID relief lawincludes $75 million for GusNIP, which supports access to nutritious fruits and vegetables for SNAP recipients. The bill also allows for the reduction of matching requirements for GusNIP grantees to obtain additional funds.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes $500 million to provide access to nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the COVID-19 emergency. The bill also provides flexibility to waive program requirements to increase access.
For more information on accessing WIC benefits in Hawaii, please visit this website.
Child Nutrition Programs
The CARES Act includes $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also provides flexibility to waive program requirements to increase access.
The COVID relief law provides as much funding as needed to support school meal and child and adult care food programs during the pandemic. These programs help to ensure access to nutritious meals and snacks for children enrolled at day care centers, participating in afterschool meal programs, and residing in emergency shelters, as well as older Americans or those living with a disability enrolled in day care facilities.
The bill also simplifies eligibility for the Pandemic EBT program to ensure access to emergency food benefits for school children. This program was authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide eligible school children with temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards. Children who would have received free or reduced price meals if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least 5 consecutive days are eligible to receive Pandemic EBT benefits.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The CARES Act provides $450 million for the TEFAP to ensure that food banks can assist those Americans most in need. This is in addition to $400 million for TEFAP in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The COVID relief law provides an additional $400 million for food banks through the TEFAP through September 30, 2021.
For more information on accessing food from food banks:
- City and County of Honolulu: Hawaii Food Bank
- Maui County: Maui Food Bank
- Kauai County: Hawaii Food Bank – Kauai
- Hawaii County: The Food Basket
Programs for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities
The CARES Act includes $955 million to support aging and disability services programs, including:
- $200 million for supportive services (Title III-B of the Older Americans Act, or OAA);
- $480 million for nutrition services (Title III-C of the OAA);
- $20 million for nutrition services (Title VI of the OAA);
- $100 million for support services for family caregivers (Title III-E of the OAA);
- $20 million for elder rights protection activities (Title VII of the OAA);
- $50 million for aging and disability resource centers (Under the OAA); and
- $85 million for centers for independent living.
The bill also waives requirements for OAA programs to ensure seniors have access to meals.
The COVID relief law provides $175 million in funding for senior nutrition services, including Meals on Wheels, and includes waivers providing flexibility in OAA nutrition services. This funding includes:
- $168 million for nutrition services (Title III-C of the OAA); and
- $7 million for nutrition services (Title VI of the OAA).
The bill also includes $13 million to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to provide food boxes to more seniors.
This is in addition to the $250 million in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for senior nutrition services (under Title III-C of the OAA) to provide approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors. This funding provides meals to low-income seniors:
- who are home-bound;
- who have disabilities;
- who have multiple chronic illnesses; and
- caregivers for seniors who are home-bound.
For information on accessing senior services in your local area, please contact your county office on aging, or the Hawaii Aging and Disability Resource Center:
- Honolulu: (808)768-7705, www.elderlyaffairs.com
- Hawaii: (808)961-8600, www.hcoahawaii.org
- Maui/Molokai/Lanai: (808)270-7774, http://www.co.maui.hi.us/departments/Housing/aging.htm
- Kauai: (808)241-4470, www.kauai.gov/elderly
Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
The CARES Act includes $90 million for Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs.
For more information:
- Hawaii Island: Hawai‘i Island HIV/AIDS Foundation
- Maui County: Maui AIDS Foundation
- Oahu: Hawai?i Health and Harm Reduction Center
- Kauai:Malama-Pono Health Services
Mental Health Programs
The CARES Act includes $425 million through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to increase access to mental health services through Community Behavioral Health Clinics, suicide prevention programs, and emergency response funding.
The 2021 COVID relief bill provides $4.25 billion to SAMHSA programs to provide increased mental health and substance abuse services and support, including through the Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment Block Grant, the Mental Health Services Block Grant, and suicide prevention programs.
If you or a loved one is feeling anxious, experiencing a crisis, thinking of suicide, or need access to mental health or substance use treatment, help is available 24/7: Hawaii CARES – 832-3100 or 1-800-753-6879.
Personal Protective Equipment and Other Critical Medical Supplies
The CARES Act provides billions for states and the federal government to purchase personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies.
The CARES Act includes $200 million for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes.
Visit Senator Schatz’s coronavirus webpage for additional information on related topics, including:
- child care/early childhood organizations;
- financial assistance for health care providers;
- telehealth; and
- health resources.
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