With world hunger rates rising, President Biden announced Wednesday at the United Nations an additional $2.9 billion in U.S. humanitarian assistance, including funds to feed schoolchildren and expand food production. We’re “taking on the food crisis head-on,” said Biden in a speech that denounced Russia for invading Ukraine and called for action on global warming.
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.
About one in 10 American households was food insecure at some point in 2021, according to USDA data released on Wednesday — a slight, but not significant, decline from 2020 and 2019, when the rate was 10.5 percent. Food security among families with children improved in 2021, with 12.5 percent of households with kids food insecure, down from 14.8 percent in 2020.
The temporary increases in federal aid during the Covid-19 pandemic had a “highly positive impact on overall family well-being” and made it easier for low-income families to afford sufficient and healthy food, according to two reports released on Tuesday by Hunger Free America. But as these supports were gradually withdrawn, respondents reported skipping meals and struggling to feed their families.
More than 60 percent of consumers across the political spectrum support increasing government support for both farmers and food assistance as a response to inflation, according to a survey released last week by the University of Illinois. Liberals had the highest rates of support for both, with 90.2 percent supporting increased funding for food programs and 85.3 percent supporting increased funding for farmers, the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey found. Conservatives had lower levels of support for both, but 64.4 percent still supported increased funding for food programs and 66.4 percent, increased funding for farmers.
More than 50 years ago, the Nixon administration convened a conference on food, nutrition, and health that set the course for America’s anti-hunger efforts in the coming decades. Now, as the Biden administration prepares for its sequel this September, anti-hunger groups, health advocates, farm groups, and others are trying to get their priorities onto the agenda. (No paywall)
Gen Z adults were nearly twice as likely to have experienced food insecurity in the first half of 2022 than other adults, according to a report published by Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability. Among these adults — born after 1996, or 18 to about 26 years old — 30 percent experienced food insecurity, according to the analysis, which is based on monthly surveys of 1200 adults. (No paywall)
The FAO Food Price Index, a barometer of prices for food commodities, rocketed to a record high immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine and disrupted food supply chains. Now it is down for the third month in a row, with large global harvests at hand, but Ukraine is a new entrant on the list of nations needing food aid, said the UN agency.
Congress would dismember the farm bill if it adopted the ideas proposed by the conservative Republican Study Committee, whose membership includes four of every five Republicans in the House. In a budget package, the RSC said it would sever public nutrition programs from the farm bill, eradicate major farm supports and slash federal support of crop insurance.
Nearly one in 10 people worldwide suffer from hunger, an increase of 150 million since the pandemic struck in 2020, and the numbers are sure to worsen, said the annual UN hunger report on Wednesday. “The global price spikes that we are seeing as a result of the crisis in Ukraine threaten to push countries around the world into famine,” said the leader of the World Food Program.
Up to 323 million people worldwide are at risk of starvation due to the pandemic, climate change, global economic woes and warfare including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said the leaders of the world's leading democracies. The Group of Seven committed an additional $4.5 billion on Tuesday "to protect the most vulnerable from hunger and malnutrition."
Congress would give schools an additional $3 billion to help them run meal programs this summer and during the next school year under an agreement announced by key lawmakers on Tuesday. The agreement would scale back the number of children who receive meals for free — at present, all of them do — and set reimbursement rates for meals at higher rates so schools can cope with rising food prices.
After reaching record highs for two months in row, the Food Price Index is marginally lower for the second consecutive month, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The latest decline, in May, was led by lower prices for vegetable oils and dairy products.
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.
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.
Around 193 million people in 53 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2021, an increase of 40 million from the previous year. “The situation is expected to worsen in 2022,” said a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises on Wednesday.
A new report urges Congress to make reducing food waste a priority in the 2023 farm bill in order to address climate change and hunger while benefiting the economy. The U.S. wastes more than one-third of the food it produces and imports, according to the report, published last week by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the Natural Resources Defense Council, ReFED and the World Wildlife Fund.
With farm bill reauthorization coming up next year, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Thursday focusing on SNAP, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the bill’s budget. But foreshadowing what could be a messy process, Democratic and Republican lawmakers staked out familiar ground and sparred over the food assistance program.
Six countries in Africa and the Middle East will receive $670 million in additional food aid to mitigate severe food insecurity, said the Biden administration on Wednesday. The assistance will mean the complete drawdown of a USDA emergency fund for the purchase of U.S. commodities for donation to hunger programs overseas.