'Top Chef' star Tom Colicchio presses Congress to boost SNAP benefits during pandemic
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Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio told House lawmakers Friday that government benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are key to survival for some families suffering from the pandemic.

In testimony before a House Ways and Means subcommittee, the “Top Chef” star cited dramatic increases in unemployment and subsequent use of food pantries as reasons for Congress to pass coronavirus relief legislation.

Colicchio urged Congress to pass the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, which was passed by House Democrats in May. Senate Republicans rejected that measure and recently said another COVID-19 relief bill is unlikely to be passed before the election.

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Colicchio criticized GOP senators, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWashington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE (Ky.) and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger MORE (Texas), for not taking up the Democratic bill.

“In the midst of a historic hunger crisis, Sen. Cornyn, along with Sen. Mitch McConnell, have failed to pass the HEROES Act, a bill passed by the House of Representatives back in May that would have meaningfully addressed hunger at the federal level,” he said.

The legislation would provide a second round of stimulus checks and increased SNAP benefits to qualified individuals.

“If you put money into the pockets of people who are most affected, instead of going and waiting in lines in a food bank, they will go to the supermarket and spend that money,” Colicchio said.

He added that the state of food insecurity in the U.S. has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“In the United States, you can go from being someone who helps out at a food pantry, to someone who needs one in a matter of weeks,” he said.