Q&A: A rural Montana school district scrambles keep kids fed during pandemic

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)

USDA food boxes for charity called ‘inefficient’

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.

What ‘anxiety baking’ says about socioeconomics and a poor diet

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)

Unrelenting opposition to SNAP cuts

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.

Food access in D.C.: Q&A with Ashanté Reese

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 taps controversial bonus program to preserve SNAP at farmers markets

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)

A contract is rebid, and 40 percent of SNAP sales at farmers markets are up in the air

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

Homes or gardens? Tension rises between developers and urban farmers.

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

To get food stamps, applicants navigate a maze of paperwork

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.