The Coalition for Food Insecurity Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Retailers Association (ACDET, in Spanish), and the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA, in Spanish) applauded U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic caucus on including key nutrition provisions addressing food insecurity in Puerto Rico in the newly updated HEROES ACT.
In a joint statement, the groups urged “swift consideration” of the legislation known as the Coronavirus Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021.
The updated HEROES Act provides Puerto Rico with an additional $1.2 billion in nutrition aid and a 15% supplemental increase in the maximum Nutritional Assistance Program benefit in Fiscal 2021 to protect against growing food insecurity on the island, they said.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Puerto Rico has been disproportionate given the ongoing effects of our recovery from the 2017 hurricanes and this year’s earthquakes,” said stated Eduardo Marxuach of the Coalition for Food Insecurity Puerto Rico.
“Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic leadership are helping to fight food insecurity in Puerto Rico, which affects many of our families, children, and elderly, by providing much needed nutrition funding. We’re hopeful that the Senate will move decisively to approve this bill, and the President will quickly sign it into law,” he said.
Another recent measure provides Puerto Rico with access to PANDEMIC-EBT, special nutrition funding for families with school-age children at home during the crisis.
“Puerto Rico has more than 1.5 million participants receiving nutrition aid, with increasing poverty and hunger on the island,” said Ivan Baez, president of ACDET.
“More families and elderly are struggling to make ends meet in their daily lives and there are significant inequities in the federal nutrition benefits the island receives,” he said.
“The HEROES Act provisions would bring Puerto Rico’s nutritional benefit levels equal to those of U.S. citizens residing in the states. We need to fight food insecurity through the provision of increased funding to Puerto Rico,” said Báez.
Finally, MIDA Executive Director Manuel Reyes said, “the social and economic well-being of Puerto Rico and the U.S. are inextricably tied to each other. Puerto Rico’s nutrition and hunger needs have been well-documented over the years.”
“Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership are taking much-needed steps to address our nutrition needs, which benefit citizens on the island and in the states. We ask the Senate to fully endorse and vote yes on these provisions in the HEROES Act,” Reyes said.