U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to release Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits early as low-income and vulnerable Floridians take the necessary steps to shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19.
SNAP is the program for low income residents to obtain food assistance. Crist wants SNAP recipients to have access to their April benefits now so they can stock up on enough food to limit necessary trips to the grocery store.
“To combat the spread of coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control has requested that individuals practice social distancing, limiting their contact with others. However, most recipients of SNAP benefits do not have the resources needed to live at home for an extended period, living hand to mouth on monthly payments to purchase the food that they need to feed themselves and their families,” Crist wrote.
People who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms are encouraged to stay at home in self-quarantine for at least 14-days. But doing that requires having enough supplies on-hand to eliminate the need for leaving home.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has left many Floridians without a steady stream of income placing great stress on those in need. In response to these growing demands, and the potential requirement for some SNAP recipients to need to self-quarantine for 14 days or more, I urge you to offer the early release of next month’s SNAP benefits, effective immediately,” Crist wrote.
He points out that Florida has made SNAP benefits available ahead of schedule before, most recently during Hurricane Dorian so recipients could stock up on food to weather the storm.
Crist has been leading efforts to increase government response to COVID-19 including by sending a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention asking for increased transparency; another to President Donald Trump asking him to appoint a Coronavirus Czar and to the Food and Drug Administration and CDC to work to improve, expand, and expedite coronavirus testing.
He also pushed for the Department of Health and Human Services to use its emergency authority to support drive-thru testing for the coronavirus.