U.S. infant formula makers are revving up production and the door is open to imported formula, so “we should see improvement in a matter of days” from shortages nationwide, FDA commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday on Capitol Hill. Califf also said he would strengthen food safety procedures at the agency, though key lawmakers argued he was not going far enough.
President Biden invoked his executive powers on Wednesday to give infant formula manufacturers first call on ingredients, and announced Operation Fly Formula, which would carry formula from overseas suppliers to the United States. Both steps were aimed at alleviating shortages that followed the shutdown of a large formula plant in Michigan, where FDA inspectors found bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
House Democratic leaders unveiled a pair of bills on Tuesday to ease infant formula shortages and beef up the FDA office in charge of assuring the products are safe for babies. "People are selling samples on the street. Mothers are watering down formula. Quite frankly, they're desperate," said Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, sponsor of one of the bills.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote this week on emergency legislation to relax some WIC regulations on infant formula, now in short supply, "so that we can get nutrition into the mouths of America's babies." Through WIC, the government buys about half of the infant formula sold in the country.
One in 10 U.S. households were food insecure in 2020, the same level as a year earlier, the USDA's Economic Research Service reported Wednesday. The flat rate of food insecurity provided evidence that government and charitable programs during the Covid-19 pandemic tempered a rise in hunger despite the deep recession.
Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) saw widespread declines during the pandemic, continuing a trend that took hold over the past decade due to significant enrollment hurdles. The declines contrasted with the sharp rise in demand for programs like SNAP and Medicaid. (No paywall)
More than two months since the Biden administration announced the most ambitious summer food program in U.S. history, the USDA has approved benefits distribution plans for just 18 states — even with school out of session across the country.
With hunger levels stubbornly high and an estimated 1 in 5 American children obese, Stacy Dean, the deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, told lawmakers Wednesday that the USDA would update nutrition standards for school meals and the WIC program to meet current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
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."
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)
Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and John Boozman, the committee’s ranking Republican, said on Thursday that Congress should apply the lessons learned during the pandemic to strengthen and expand key child nutrition policies this year. (No paywall)
As food insecurity soars among families with children and a slate of federal benefits is set to expire later this month, a critical anti-hunger tool has yet to be implemented, leaving at least 2.7 million kids without assistance. (No paywall)
After a successful test vote on Tuesday, the Senate was expected to easily approve on Wednesday a funding bill to keep the government open through Dec. 11. Provisions of the bill would expand child nutrition funding by nearly $8 billion, including a one-year extension of the so-called P-EBT …
A critical tool for fighting child hunger is set to expire at the end of the month, despite persistent need among millions of children due to the pandemic. The Pandemic-EBT program was created in March to give families funds to buy groceries in lieu of free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches their children would otherwise have been getting at school. Unless Congress renews the program before Sept. 30, eligible families will lose access to the benefit until at least after the presidential election. (No paywall)
Like school nutrition staff across the country, Marsha Wartick, food service director for the Ronan School District in tiny Ronan, Montana, spent the last six months feeding hungry kids and their families under a USDA emergency meals program. Now, as kids head back to school, Wartick is scrambling to react to mixed signals from the administration and hoping the emergency program is allowed to continue through the entire school year. (No paywall)
The Pandemic EBT program, created by Congress to help low-income families buy food for their children during school closures, "is hitting its target," said researchers at the Brookings Institution. "We find that Pandemic EBT reduces food hardship faced by children by 30 percent in the week following its disbursement."
The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it will be delivering boxes of food to children affected by school closures due to the novel coronavirus in rural America. In partnership with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, and PepsiCo, the USDA says it will eventually deliver 1 million meals per week.(No paywall)
The Trump administration proposed a 29 percent cut in food stamps on Monday, to be achieved by requiring more recipients to work at least 20 hours a week and by providing some benefits in the form of a box of food instead of letting people buy food themselves at grocery stores. The White House also asked Congress for stricter rules for access to free meals for low-income children at public schools.
Congress can remove a roadblock to good nutrition by eliminating the reduced-price category for school lunches and breakfasts, and making the meals free for lower-income children, said the School Nutrition Association on Monday. Roughly 6 percent of lunches and 9 percent of breakfasts served at schools nationwide are sold at reduced prices of 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast.