Nearly one-third of the people in 77 low- and middle-income countries are food insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food for a healthy and active lifestyle, said an annual USDA report. The 9.8-percent increase to 1.3 billion people this year included 41.7 million affected by higher food, fuel and fertilizer costs attributed to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The rapid rise of food delivery and online grocery shopping, particularly among SNAP recipients, is both transforming the food system and raising new questions about how to measure and improve access to food and food security, according to two new reports from the Brookings Institution.
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 "farmers to families food box," a $3 billion part of the Trump administration's coronavirus relief package, may not be an efficient use of taxpayer dollars although it is aimed at two vexing issues during the pandemic – crops with no buyers and food banks overwhelmed by demand, said a panel of analysts on Monday.
Comfort food is having its moment because all of us, even those with relative means, are feeling decidedly uncomfortable right now. But for millions of low-income Americans, there won’t be any return to the gym, the running club, or sensible eating when the virus is behind us. Not only do these families typically have less access to healthier food and safe spaces for exercise, they were already enduring the very same pressures now driving more affluent Americans to overeat unhealthy food: job insecurity, cramped living spaces, poorer sleep, a dearth of childcare, and lack of assured access to medical care.(No paywall)
Before leaving Washington for the holidays, more than a dozen House Democrats stood in front of the USDA headquarters on the Mall to register their opposition to Trump administration regulations that would eliminate food stamps for 3.7 million people. Rules Committee chairman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, one of the foremost defenders of SNAP, raised the possibility of a congressional lawsuit against the cuts.
In her new book, “Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C.,” Ashanté M. Reese, an assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College, uses Deanwood, a predominately black neighborhood in D.C., as a lens to examine the broader obstacles to food access and opportunity facing black communities as well as how a narrative of self-reliance has both boosted and hindered fundamental changes in the food system.(No paywall)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to ensure farmers markets can continue accepting SNAP benefits through the end of the market season relies on funding from a controversial federal program that rewards states for implementing SNAP with low error rates—and that lawmakers may eliminate in the next farm bill. (No paywall)
Earlier this year, when the USDA changed the vendor that runs its program that allows farmers markets to take SNAP benefits, it set off a chain reaction that could soon prevent thousands of poor people from using those benefits at the markets, reports FERN’s latest piece, published with The Washington Post. No paywall
In recent years, vacant land in cities across the country has been colonized by community gardens, giving the often-poor residents access to fresh produce. Now, though, developers of affordable housing are targeting those same empty lots, putting them at odds with the gardeners in communities that need both housing and fresh food, reports FERN's latest story, published with NPR's The Salt. No paywall
It's far from simple to qualify for food stamps, says Harvest Public Media in the first story of a five-part series this week on SNAP. Most states allow people to apply online as well as by paper applications. For Iowa and Missouri, the printed form runs six pages, but it's 17 pages in Kansas.
Everything will be on the table when the House Agriculture Committee reviews the $70 billion-a-year food stamp program as part of writing the 2018 farm bill, said chairman Michael Conaway. "We will propose meaningful reforms to SNAP," said Conaway, using the abbreviation for the program's formal name, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
In a step to mollify Capitol Hill, the USDA said that stores participating in the food-stamp program will have to stock a wider and deeper variety of healthy foods than they do now — but only half as many as it originally proposed. And USDA relented for the most part on a provision that would have barred retailers that sell a lot of hot food.
As several cities in the U.S. prepare to vote on soda taxes, researchers say that taxing more of our foods based on their climate impact would do a lot to help the planet and our health, says The Guardian. A 40-percent surcharge on beef, for instance, would produce a 13-percent decline in consumption, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Whole Foods and Starbucks are opening locations in Chicago’s crime-ridden Englewood neighborhood as part of a $20-million project to bring better services and products to the area. “The typically upscale Whole Foods will occupy an 18,000-square-foot store in the newly constructed Englewood Square shopping complex during a notably violent year in the neighborhood, one of the city’s poorest — it served as the setting for Spike Lee’s controversial “Chiraq” movie, and median household income is under $20,000, according to Census data,” says MarketWatch.
Purple Carrot, a vegan meal-kit company based in Boston, now sells its boxes of pre-measured ingredients in local Whole Foods stores, says the Boston Globe — a twist from the meal-kit model of shipping food and recipes to a subscriber's home. "After realizing they're literally getting their lunch stolen by these startups, they [grocers] have begun to look for ways to tap into the public's interest in the trend," the newspaper says.
Families with children are more likely to face hardship in obtaining enough food year-round than households without them, says the anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center. Based on a Gallup survey, FRAC estimated that 20 percent of households with children nationwide suffers food hardship.
Beginning this fall, the Capital Area Food Bank, based in Washington, will refuse donations from retailers that include candy, sugary soda or sheet cakes, says Civil Eats. It quotes the food bank's chief executive, Nancy Roman, as saying, "We are providing food on a regular basis to a low-income community and we have a moral obligation that it be good food that's not aggravating their (health) problems."
Better access to supermarkets and grocery stores doesn’t necessarily inspire people to eat better, according to a study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In fact, researchers found that U.S. adults buy most of their junk-food at such stores. The findings fly in the face of the “food desert” theory, which holds that people in neighborhoods without grocery stores are more likely to eat unhealthy food.