Meatpacking plants in the spotlight at House hearing

Meatpacking, poultry, and agricultural workers have faced "devastating" conditions during the pandemic, in part due to employers' and federal regulators' lax approach to worker safety, argued advocates during a hearing before a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday. The hearing comes as food system workers are becoming eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in many states, but new outbreaks and cases of the virus continue to emerge in these crowded workplaces across the country. No paywall

‘One step closer,’ says Biden as aid bill moves to Senate

A three-month extension of higher SNAP benefits and $4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers are in the hands of the Senate following a 219-212 vote by the House over the weekend. "We are one step closer," said President Biden, who used the phrase to describe elements of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, from funds for coronavirus vaccinations and unemployment benefits to "helping millions of Americans feed their families."

Vilsack brings to-do list as he starts new stint as agriculture secretary

Boosted by a landslide confirmation vote in the Senate, Tom Vilsack will begin his second stint as agriculture secretary on Wednesday facing problems from the pandemic and climate change to rising hunger rates in America. His own list of goals is much longer and each item on it is a blockbuster.

Pandemic boost for grocers: $6 billion a month

When the pandemic closed schools and restaurants last winter, Americans went to the supermarket to stock up on food for the stay-at-home weeks. Grocery sales skyrocketed by 32 percent last March and have remained strong, averaging $6 billion a month above pre-Covid levels, said the Census Bureau on Wednesday.

Tyson shareholders reject proposals on human rights, corporate transparency

At its annual meeting on Thursday, Tyson Foods shareholders rejected three proposals that would have increased investor oversight of the company's operations. Tyson also reported lower-than-expected sales in the first quarter as well as ongoing pandemic-related worker absenteeism and turnover.

Tyson faces investor pressure over handling of Covid-19 pandemic

Tyson Foods investors attending its online annual shareholder meeting this week will consider several proposals to increase oversight of the company, all of which stem from the company’s handling of the Covid-19. Thousands of Tyson workers have contracted the virus and dozens have died at plants around the country.

How a venerable soup kitchen in Portland, Maine, kept feeding the hungry as Covid-19 ravaged the city

In March 2020, Covid-19 forced the Preble Street soup kitchen in Portland, Maine, to close its dining room for the first time in 39 years. But, as Christian Letourneau reports in FERN's latest story, published with Eater, the soup kitchen staff went mobile, tracking and delivering meals and other services to the growing ranks of the hungry and homeless who scattered across the city as shelters and other aid operations shut down or restricted access. (No paywall)

FRAC says free school breakfast is crucial to addressing hunger, academic performance

Nearly a year into the pandemic, school closures have taken a harsh toll on American kids. Virtual classes have left many behind academically, and losing access to school meals has increased child hunger across the country, as replacement programs have failed to meet rising need. As children return to the classroom, school breakfasts will be critical in both curbing hunger and improving academic outcomes, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) annual Breakfast Scorecard, which was released today.

House committee to investigate meatpacking plant outbreaks

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation Monday into the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants during the course of the pandemic. The committee sent letters to the country's top meatpackers — JBS, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods — as well as to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting scores of information on the entities' management of the spread of the virus among meatpacking workers, with a response deadline of Feb. 15.(No paywall)

OSHA strengthens workplace guidelines against Covid-19

The Labor Department, in issuing stronger worker-safety guidelines  called on employers to conduct a hazard analysis and implement measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus on the job. The recommendations include the use of face masks and reconfiguring work spaces so workers are at least six feet apart.