Biden signs orders to increase SNAP benefits, speed up stimulus checks

President Biden signed two executive orders today: one to increase SNAP food benefits known as food stamps, the other to streamline the process of sending out stimulus checks.

Expanding SNAP benefits is aimed at helping 29 million Americans and 12 million children who simply don't have enough to eat. 

"When it comes to us, we don't worry about us as much as our kids. We would go hungry to make sure our kids got fed first," said Larissa Cheatum, a mother of three. 

Cheatum says she just lost SNAP benefits that she depends on, an error she says that their monthly income is suddenly too high.   

"What am I going to do? How are we going to do this and pay bills at the same time?" said Cheatum.

President Biden extends eviction moratorium through March

President Biden signed executive orders today to extend the pause on student loan payments through September and extend the eviction moratorium through March. 

"It eases my mind good because I don't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from or how I'm going to get the next meal," said Shirley Batiste, who receives SNAP benefits while caring for her two grandchildren.

Batiste says SNAP helps her family and the families that she works with at Target Hunger. 

"They have some really sad stories, almost makes me want to cry, like, 'We don't have anything. I have three kids. I'm a single parent and I don't know what to do," said Batiste, describing the calls she receives at Target Hunger.

President Biden's executive order is asking the U.S. Agriculture Department for a 15% increase in emergency SNAP benefits for families with children that would usually receive free breakfast and lunch at school.

"This change targets the families so that they hit the maximum but they've got the kids in school. So the expenses of those lunches, that's who this targets. This is what, for those families, could be an extra $100 a month," explained Brian Greene, CEO of the Houston Food Bank.

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Biden also wants 12 million of the lowest-income food stamp recipients to qualify for the emergency P-EBT, which could increase their benefits 15% to 20% a month.

Greene says that is great news that could help alleviate the high demand for food during the pandemic.

"We're distributing about 800,000 pounds a day, which is 450,000 pounds per day more than we were doing before. The lines are still long," said Greene.  

The U.S.D.A. will also reassess the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines SNAP benefits. The White House says it's out of date.

Biden to call for $10,000 federal student loan forgiveness per borrower

On his first day in office, President-elect Biden is expected to call for $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness for borrowers and continue the pause on federal student loan payments. 

Cheatum hopes that might help. 

"We have to figure out how we're going to pay our bills, put food on the table, and make sure our kids get what they need," said Cheatum. 

President Biden's executive orders also asked the U.S. Treasury to update its stimulus check issuing process, because so many people didn't receive theirs or received smaller or delayed payments.