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Chellie Pingree Says Relief Package Begins To Address Hunger

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District says part of the $900 billion pandemic relief package only begins to address the growing problem of hunger in America.

Pingree says the legislation provides the unemployed help in buying food, but doesn’t solve the larger need.

“It’s a huge issue, the level of hunger and how much it has increased in the pandemic and it certainly is not going away anytime soon. There is an increase in SNAP benefits,” she says.

The bill increases the maximum SNAP benefit by 15% for the first six months of the new year. It also makes it easier for those on unemployment to qualify for SNAP and will allow more college students to qualify.

“It’s rarely understood how much hunger there is. College kids are taking advantage of food pantries, and particularly during this moment in time. So, it does increase their eligibility,” Pingree says.

Pingree says she will push for for further increases in food assistance programs in the next session of Congress.

“The stress and strain this year on food pantries has been incredible. So I think we have a long ways to go but you know this will be an important part of our conversation, our Appropriations talk in the coming year,” she says.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.