Nutrition programs should be in farm bill, Duvall says

The nation’s largest farm group wants public nutrition programs to be part of the upcoming farm bill, as they have been for decades. “It should be called the food and farm bill,” president Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) told FERN’s Ag Insider in an interview …

Biden pledges to ‘combat hunger and improve nutrition for every American’

In a White House video, President Biden said on Wednesday that the administration would “lay out our plan to combat hunger and improve nutrition for every American” at the hunger, nutrition, and health conference set for September. More than 10 percent of Americans were food insecure and hunger rates spiked during the early months of the pandemic.

White House to hold conference on ending hunger in America

With more than 38 million Americans food insecure, President Biden announced on Wednesday the White House will hold a conference on hunger and nutrition in September. It will be the first hunger conference since 1969 and would launch a national plan on ending hunger in the United States, said the White House.

Pandemic brought 17-percent drop in school meals

Federal waivers that allowed schools to hand out "grab and go" meals to students, and that made meals free to all students, were powerful tools in blunting the impact of the pandemic on food insecurity among children, said USDA economists. Although the number of school meals declined 17 percent in fiscal 2020, because of the waivers 1.7 billion meals were served from March-May 2020 "that may have otherwise not been distributed," they said in a Covid-19 working paper.

Stepping ahead of Biden, progressives propose free school meals for all

More than three dozen Democrats in the House and Senate proposed a dramatic expansion of U.S. spending on school meals to provide free meals for all students, not just low-income children. "What we've seen during this pandemic is that a universal approach to school meals works," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a lead sponsor. "We cannot go backwards."

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With executive orders, Biden gives anti-hunger advocates a big slice of what they wanted

Amid the flurry of executive orders that marked his first 48 hours in office, President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he will ask the USDA to expand two critical food-assistance programs, as hunger continues to plague millions during the pandemic. The orders will raise SNAP benefits and increase funds awarded through the Pandemic-EBT program, which transfers the dollar amount of school lunches onto debit cards to compensate for meals kids miss while schools are closed. The early moves confirm expectations that the new administration will be serious about tackling food insecurity, through both general financial assistance and targeted food aid.(No paywall)

Biden: Higher SNAP benefits for the rest of the year

As part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package, President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday that the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits approved last month should be extended through the end of this year. Biden, announcing his American Rescue Plan, vowed his administration would "tackle the growing hunger crisis in America."

Perdue sitting on food box details, say House Democrats

The USDA’s food-box giveaway program has been the Trump administration’s answer to hunger during the pandemic but officials have failed to answer questions about alleged shortcomings and political machinations of the $4 billion program, said Democrats on the House Agriculture subcommittee on …

American adults skip meals as coronavirus clips income

A quarter of adults have eaten less or skipped meals because they lacked the money to buy food, said an antihunger group on Monday in calling for expansion of food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. The largest U.S. farm group and a food bank network suggested that the USDA should create a voucher system to get farm-fresh food directly to nearby food banks. (No paywall)

Summer food program loses ground for third year

Participation in federally funded summer nutrition programs, which provide meals for low-income children when school is out of session, is down by 10 percent since 2015, said the anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center in a report today. Work in Congress to update USDA’s child nutrition …

GOP work rules would end or reduce SNAP for 1 million households

The work requirements for SNAP recipients proposed by House Republicans "would cause more than a million low-income households with about 2 million people — particularly low-income working families with children —- to lose their benefits altogether or have them reduced," said Robert Greenstein, the head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "We really believe they need to go back to the drawing board," saying the package is too poorly designed to be salvaged by amendment.

Block grants would undermine food stamps, says free-enterprise think tank

The perennial Republican proposal to convert food stamps into a block grant "would severely undermine" the anti-hunger program's ability to respond immediately to economic downturns, says the American Enterprise Institute, an exponent of free enterprise. In a paper aimed at the 2018 farm bill, AEI says "the program could be strengthened by doing more to assist participants with finding employment and rewarding work."

The farm bill problem: More ideas than money to pay for them

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, says there is a recurring challenge as committee leaders draft an outline of the 2018 farm bill: "The big problem is we haven't got any money." The Agriculture Committee appealed for additional funding early this year but the budget plan approved by Congress kept funding steady.

Half a million USDA boxes of food for Puerto Rico

Officials from USDA and Puerto Rico agreed on a household distribution program that will provide about 500,000 boxes, each holding from 9-16 pounds of U.S.-grown food, "directly to families affected by Hurricane Maria." The distribution, announced over the weekend, was approved through Oct. 27.

Trump proposes long-term, 25-percent cut in food stamps, cost-sharing by states

The White House proposed a $193-billion cut in food stamp spending over the next decade, achieved by restricting benefits to able-bodied adults and by having states shoulder 20 percent of the cost of the program. Jim Weill, of the anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center, said the cost-sharing plan "would make the program collapse" during economic hard times when states run short of money.

House Ag panel quietly asks for more farm bill money

The leaders of the House Agriculture Committee said aloud, albeit softly, what they have hinted for weeks — they want more money for the 2018 farm bill than is being spent under current law. Chairman Michael Conaway phrased the request to the Budget Committee as a need for "budget flexibility" for the farm bill while the committee's senior Democrat, Collin Peterson, said "we may need a little more."

Trump seeks 15-percent domestic cut to pay for big military spending

President Trump would pay for his proposed $54-billion increase in military spending in fiscal 2018 by cutting domestic discretionary programs by 15 percent, said the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "The president's proposal would continue a severe, multi-year squeeze" on discretionary programs such as education, job training, clean water, and medical and scientific research, said the think tank.

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