By Sharon Buhr and Dr. James Buhr | Valley City, N.D.

Low-income people have been most affected by the coronavirus shut down, and in Valley City we have seen a doubling of need at our food bank.

Children and adults who are at risk of hunger are at greater risk for COVID-19. Even before this pandemic, we were dismayed to learn that almost 9 percent of all North Dakota households were struggling with food insecurity. We know that number is growing with documented increases in demand at food pantries, soup kitchens, “backpack” programs for children, and an increase in applications for the SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) program right in our own state.

Increasing SNAP benefits is a solution ready to be rolled out to improve nutrition, health and well-being for thousands of families in North Dakota and millions across our country. A new research brief from Healthy Eating Research emphasizes the urgency of including increases in SNAP benefits in the next COVID-19 emergency relief package.

If you want to help hungry children and adults with these efforts, please join with us to urge North Dakota’s senators to do the right thing and ensure children and adults get the nutrition they need by 1) boosting SNAP maximum benefit levels by 15 percent; 2) increasing the minimum benefit; and 3) preventing SNAP rules changes that weaken eligibility or benefits.

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Each and every child needs our support at this time. Let’s make sure that no child, or adult, is left out of their chance not just to survive, but to thrive through this time.

Sharon Buhr is a licensed registered dietitian; James Buhr is a physician.