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Improving Safety Net Policy in Response to COVID-19

Urging lawmakers to preserve safety net programs in the time of COVID-19
September 29, 2021

Latest Update

USDA has approved Florida’s plan for Summer P-EBT. DCF hopes to begin issuance in November 2021. See the safety net policy tracker for more details.

COVID-19 Safety Net Policy

The needs of families with low income must be a priority as the state decides what steps it will take to lessen the effects of COVID-19. Florida policymakers should adopt proactive COVID-19 policies to protect families who rely on safety net programs to avoid hunger, stay well, and make ends meet. Additionally, they need to keep a keen eye on the state budget projections and work together to identify sustainable revenue sources, and to advocate for state and local federal fiscal aid, to avert cuts that would be devastating to communities still reeling from the health crisis.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Reemployment Assistance (RA), and the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are crucial to keeping struggling Floridians out of poverty during this public health crisis.

FPI and our partners, including the Safety Net Advocacy Coalition (SNAC), have been hard at work keeping the pulse on the state policy response and driving a collective push to protect our state's safety net programs through this crisis. These actions and other safety net policy responses by the state have been compiled by our staff in the Safety Net Policy Tracker

SNAC Moves the Needle on Crucial Safety Net Measures During the Pandemic: A Brief Timeline

March 24, 2020: SNAC urges safety net protections and policy changes amid the COVID-19 crisis. FPI and 44 other organizations send a letter to Gov. DeSantis urging him to take immediate steps to bolster the state’s safety net, with 47 specific policy recommendations. So far, the state has taken action on 21 of these policy recommendations.

April 4-7, 2020: Newspapers across the state, including Ocala Star Banner, Tampa Bay Times, Palm Beach Post,  The Florida Times-Union, Miami Herald, mention/cite the SNAC sign-on letter.

July 2020:

  • The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced that it was reinstating work requirements and ending recertification extensions for SNAP and TANF recipients.
  • July 21: SNAC sends a letter to DeSantis urging him to reverse course on reinstituting work requirements for SNAP and TANF in the midst of the pandemic. FPI and 52 groups sign on, and the letter is featured in the Orlando Sentinel.
  • July 25: The Daytona Beach News Journal opinion editor publishes an editorial urging the state to hold off on reinstating work search and recertification requirements for safety net programs. FPI is mentioned in the write-up. Nine other editorial boards from across the state publish identical pieces. 
  • July 29: On the heels of the joint letter and media attention to this issue, DCF changed course and opted to continue waiving safety net work requirements for SNAP and TANF through the end of August.
  • Work requirements continued to be suspended on a month-to-month basis. See policy tracker for latest information.

December 14, 2020: New report sheds light on Florida families and COVID-19 and highlights four areas where families struggle:  healthcare, affordable housing, food security and mental health.

March 19, 2021: A Guide to the American Rescue Plan Act outlines how Florida can use ARPA funds to invest in communities.

March 23, 2021: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about P-EBT and updates as new information becomes available.

April 6, 2021: Inequities in Reemployment Assistance in Florida: Pandemic Data Raises More Questions Than It Answers

Find out more policy information related to coronavirus here.

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Related Resources
Mar 2020

Policy Recommendations for Strengthening Florida’s Safety Net In Response to COVID-19

Policy Recommendations for Strengthening Florida’s Safety Net In Response to COVID-19

May 2020

Governor DeSantis: Floridians Deserve a Better Safety Net [Florida Phoenix]

Governor DeSantis: Floridians Deserve a Better Safety Net [Florida Phoenix]

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