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, in order to avert cuts that would be devastating to communities still reeling from the health crisis.
FPI and our partners 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.
- 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. On March 24, 2020, 44 organizations signed on to a letter we authored addressed to Governor DeSantis urging him to adopt 47 policy changes to bolster the state's safety net. So far, the state has taken action on 21 of these policy recommendations. These actions and other safety net policy responses by the state have been compiled by our staff in the Safety Net Policy Tracker.
- In mid-July 2020, the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced that it was reinstating work requirements and ending recertification extensions for SNAP and TANF recipients. So we penned a letter to Governor DeSantis — cosigned-by 52 SNAC organizations — urging the state to reconsider and pointing to high unemployment and food insecurity amid a worsening pandemic, during which families with low income who depend on safety net programs have been disproportionately impacted. 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 through October 2020.