An estimated 2.2 million people in America are water-insecure, and that's almost certainly a huge undercount, explains Lela Nargi in FERN's latest story. Yet the issue "is not even on most public health professionals’ radar, although recent water disasters in Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi, are starting to change that."
The Agriculture Department proposed an update to the WIC program on Thursday that would let participants buy three, or even four, times as many fruits and vegetables and would broaden the range of foods available through the program to reflect the diversity of the American diet. The expansion of fruit and vegetable allowances would increase WIC spending by 14 percent and require Congress to appropriate additional money to the $6 billion-a-year program.
Ukrainian farmers and food-importing nations in the Middle East and North Africa will feel the pain of the Russian interruption of grain exports through the Black Sea corridor, said the IFPRI think tank on Monday. The importer nations face their highest need for grain in the months ahead with supplies in doubt and commodity prices jolted higher.
With migration at a high level worldwide, rural areas feel the greatest burden related to forced displacement, whether in loss of population or influx of newcomers, said the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday. Food security, along with climate change and armed conflict, is a main driver of human migration.
President Biden's goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030 already is backed by $8 billion in commitments from the private sector, medical groups, schools and charities, said senior administration officials. Biden was to deliver "a call to action to all Americans" on Wednesday at the first White House hunger conference in half a century.
The Justice Department on Thursday accused 47 people of looting $250 million from the federal child nutrition program by fraudulently claiming to feed thousands of poor children daily in Minnesota during the pandemic. Instead, they allegedly spent the money on cars, houses, jewelry, travel and real estate the United States, Kenya and Turkey in what Attorney General Merrick Garland said was "the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme" yet.
President Biden directed the Treasury-led committee that scrutinizes foreign investment in America to consider the national security impact any deals would have on U.S. technological leadership, including biotechnology and “elements of the agricultural industrial base that have implications for food security.” The executive order was issued amid rising concerns about Chinese purchases of U.S. land and companies.
More and more people were going hungry or lacking reliable access to food even before Covid-19 hit in 2020, and "the main effect of the pandemic was to sharply increase the deteriorating trend in food security" in low- and middle-income nations, said an Iowa think tank. "Most of the increase in the number of food-insecure people from Covid-19 in 2020 was driven by large Asian countries, particularly India, Bangladesh and Pakistan."
Americans are turning to food banks for help in the face of rising food, fuel, child care and housing costs, the chief executive of the Atlanta Community Food Bank told lawmakers on Tuesday. "Our distribution volumes are rising again" and now match the early months of the pandemic, when hunger was on the rise, said Kyle Waide, the chief executive.
Despite the experience of food price spikes a decade ago, nations are compounding the disruptions of warfare in the Black Sea region by hoarding their domestic supplies, said the global research group CGIAR.
NASA climatologist Cynthia Rosenzweig, one of the first scientists to document the impact of climate change on food production, is this year’s winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize, said the Food Prize foundation on Thursday. “Dr. Rosenzweig has brought powerful computational tools into practical application in agriculture and food systems,” said foundation president Barbara Stinson during an announcement ceremony at the State Department.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine focused world attention on wheat prices and disruptions of supplies to poor countries that rely on imported grain. Now analysts at the IFPRI think tank say there is “another important emerging food security issue: the war’s impact on vegetable oils.”
One-third of Ukraine's crops and agricultural land may not be harvested or cultivated this year because of the Russian invasion, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Tuesday. It asked for donations of $115.4 million, more than double its initial request, to support Ukrainian agriculture.
There are no overnight replacements for Ukraine and Russia in global wheat production, said five IFPRI analysts on Monday. "Even under the most optimistic assumptions, global wheat prices will remain high throughout 2022 and the trend is likely to persist through 2023, given limits on expanding production."
The Biden administration should encourage larger domestic food production to blunt the disruptions in global supplies created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said the Republican leader of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman said the land-idling Conservation Reserve, if needed, could provide millions of acres of cropland and pasture "to address both inflation and food security concerns."
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.
Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) saw widespread declines during the pandemic, continuing a trend that took hold over the past decade due to significant enrollment hurdles. The declines contrasted with the sharp rise in demand for programs like SNAP and Medicaid. (No paywall)
The Biden administration earmarked $4 billion on Tuesday to strengthen the U.S. food system, including an expansion of local and regional food processing capacity. Aiming to increase competition, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hoped to see "new entries" in the highly concentrated processing sector.