On Friday President Biden signed two executive orders that will together increase food aid, protect job seekers on unemployment, make it easier to obtain government aid and clear a path for $15/hour minimum wage for federal workers and contractors.
"We still need medical insurance, we still need food stamps, we still need our unemployment because we're not working full-time," said Lily Palacios.
In San Diego County the unemployment rate rose from 6.6% in November to 8% in December, according to EDD statistics released Friday. Many lost their jobs in 2020 because of the pandemic and recovery has not been easy.
"I feel like its probably going to take us a year to be back on our feet, be back to paying all of our debts as we have a lot of bills and they're all waiting for us," said Palacios.
Last March, Palacios lost her job at a Chula Vista dental clinic. She was unemployed for five months and was receiving government assistance including CAL FRESH.
Then her clinic reopened and she was asked to go back to work, but not full time. Now, she and her husband are struggling to balance work and helping their first-grade son through distance learning.
"It's actually harder now, it's getting harder because we have to pay for bills and our own food and we're not back to working full time," she said.
Palacios is hopeful that food stamp eligibility can expand to benefit more people who are relying on assistance during these times.
Biden's order asks the USDA to allow states to increase their SNAP benefits by 15%. Biden also wants to enhance pandemic EBT, an electronic debit card program, for students who otherwise would have qualified for free or reduced-price meals at their schools.