Hunger relief organizations say pandemic revealed systemic flaws

Safety constraints related to the coronavirus pandemic forced hunger relief organizations to eliminate key operations over the last year, including community meals and school-related programs, even as they struggled to meet increased demand for their services, according to a survey released yesterday by WhyHunger and Duke University.

Child-hunger advocates hope Biden’s expansion of P-EBT becomes a permanent solution to summer food needs

The Agriculture Department on Tuesday announced plans to launch the most significant summer food program in U.S. history, expanding a pandemic-era benefit to feed more than 30 million children over the summer break. Now, anti-hunger advocates are hoping to leverage the expansion into a permanent summer benefits program, a longstanding goal that would fill a gap in food access when school is out.(No paywall)

USDA: Student participation in school meal programs dropped by a third last year

Student participation in school meal programs dropped 30 percent in the first nine months of the pandemic, according to new USDA data, leaving kids without meals amid acute rates of food insecurity and draining the programs of critical revenue.

In abrupt reversal, USDA extends summer school food waivers

In a sudden reversal, the Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would extend school meal waivers through Dec. 30—less than a week after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had said the programs would lapse by Sept. 30. The shift came amid an outcry from advocates and lawmakers from both parties, who argued that Perdue’s refusal to extend key waivers and flexibilities around free summer meals would worsen record levels of child hunger. (No paywall)

Anti-hunger groups see promise in Biden-Harris ticket

With Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate confirmed, anti-hunger advocates say the presidential ticket is well equipped to tackle an urgent concern: food insecurity. Sen. Kamala Harris has consistently pushed for bolstering the social safety net, notably calling for the 15-percent increase in SNAP benefits that experts say would significantly reduce hunger. (No paywall)

Advocates implore Congress to increase spending on anti-hunger programs

In a largely positive review of government programs to address mounting hunger during Covid-19, a panel of experts and advocates speaking at the National Food Security Conference on Wednesday encouraged Congress to boost spending on the anti-hunger programs it has developed since the pandemic began. (No paywall)

Farm, anti-hunger groups try to squeeze into $1-trillion pandemic bill

"Everything's on the table" as Congress sets to work on a new coronavirus relief bill, and most of it will end up in the wastebasket, said Senate Finance chairman Chuck Grassley. Farm groups are pressing for billions of dollars in aid to offset low commodity prices and anti-hunger activists say a temporary increase in SNAP benefits would reduce hunger and stimulate the economy.(No paywall)

Covid-19 looms over refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border

Since 2019, a crisis has been unfolding across the U.S.-Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas. About 2,000 refugees, largely from Central America, have been stranded in a riverside encampment, wholly dependent on humanitarian groups for food and other basic needs. Feeding them before Covid-19 was a daunting task for the aid groups, but the pandemic has made food delivery considerably more complicated, says FERN’s latest story. (No paywall)

North Carolina food bank scrambles to feed the hungry

Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina distributed 82 million pounds of food last year, but this year it's scrambling to find the food and volunteers to deliver food directly to people in need, many of them seniors, Barry Yeoman writes in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)