The pandemic sent millions of Americans to food banks for help last year and the crush continues this year, said a food bank leader at a House hearing on USDA food donation programs on Wednesday. Feeding America, the largest food bank network in the nation, asked for a 45 percent funding increase for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which buys U.S.-grown food and gives it to food banks to alleviate hunger.
Although many food banks discourage donations of junk food, they still don't get enough donations of healthy food and continue to receive unwanted items, said the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest on Monday.
The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program was the Trump administration's answer to hunger during the pandemic but it undermined its goal by mismanagement and abuse of the $5.5 billion program, said a report released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Wednesday. The panel chairman, Democrat James Clyburn, suggested the USDA should pursue reimbursement, where appropriate, of misspent money.
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.
To reduce food waste and help feed hungry Americans, the USDA will spend an estimated $400 million to reimburse dairy organizations for donating products to food banks, said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh on Wednesday. The donation program was the second component of pandemic relief to dairy farmers that would total $2 billion this year.
The USDA announced on Friday that it will invest up to $1 billion to expand emergency food networks, bolstering the ability of food banks and local organizations to serve in-need communities.
The USDA ought to keep President Trump's glitzy food box giveaway program in operation rather than let it die at the end of April, said Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday. A food bank leader said that while the food box had been helpful in responding to pandemic-caused hunger, it was not as useful as programs like SNAP.
The government will distribute more than 25 million washable face masks through community health centers and the food bank network over the next three months, announced the White House on Wednesday.
For USDA, the most important number in its food-box giveaway program is how many boxes are donated — 18.4 million as of Friday, according to a tally on the homepage of the agency that runs the program. Officials declined to provide other details, such as the average cost of the boxes or how long the $3-billion initiative will be in operation.(No paywall)