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The Academy Award-winning actress and humanitarian is advocating on behalf of the millions of families across the country who rely on things like free meals for their kids at schools that are no longer available as people lose work and classrooms remain empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shared with USA Today, the 44-year-old celebrity asks for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to have its benefits increased for parents in an effort to ensure that fewer kids go to bed hungry due to the unprecedented pandemic.
“Many of the most vulnerable children in America have missed nearly 740 million meals at school, due to closure resulting from the rapid spread of coronavirus. With parents facing lost jobs and wages, many of these children are going hungry," she wrote in her April 20 letter.
She adds: "While strengthening SNAP will not alleviate all of the challenges low-income families are facing during the public health emergency, it will help ensure that fewer children go to bed hungry in our country.”
In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that SNAP benefits have increased 40 percent.
The increase comes as more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past month, as lockdown measures issued by state governments shuttered most businesses. The spike in benefits for those already enrolled cost the program an additional $2 billion. Before the coronavirus pandemic, SNAP typically cost the government around $4.5 billion per month.
Still, Jolie, who is also a special envoy of the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, joins many Democrats who have been trying to add SNAP increases into the next stimulus bill.
The outlet reports that the actress was counseled by several organizations who are assisted by No Kid Hungry, a non-profit that fights childhood hunger in America and has supplied emergency grants to local community groups and schools as the pandemic has raged on. It reports that the consensus among the groups was that the short-term increases that have already happened will simply not be enough if schools remain closed and families continue to be out of work.
I knew that there were problems in America. I knew that there was poverty," Jolie reportedly told the group on a phone call. "I could not believe when I realized how many schoolchildren in America were dependent on a meal to not go hungry. I was so disgusted that we have gotten to this point as a country."