Pandemic brought 17-percent drop in school meals

Federal waivers that allowed schools to hand out "grab and go" meals to students, and that made meals free to all students, were powerful tools in blunting the impact of the pandemic on food insecurity among children, said USDA economists. Although the number of school meals declined 17 percent in fiscal 2020, because of the waivers 1.7 billion meals were served from March-May 2020 "that may have otherwise not been distributed," they said in a Covid-19 working paper.

Q&A: Yolanda Soto says Covid-19 helped boost the market for imperfect produce

The Covid-19 pandemic upended the food supply chain in 2020, but massive quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico kept flowing into the border town of Nogales, Arizona. Not all of it made it to American tables, however, or even out of Nogales. Instead, as is the case every year, millions of pounds of misshapen or otherwise imperfect produce was diverted to the landfill. Despite the pandemic, Borderlands Food Rescue managed to keep up its longtime work of salvaging those less-than-perfect tomatoes, cucumbers, mangoes, and watermelons for people in need.(No paywall)

Leaders of all House committees call for hunger conference

In a letter to President Biden, the leaders of every House committee said on Wednesday that the pandemic had revealed the extent of hunger in America. "We call on you to convene a national conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health ... to design a roadmap to end hunger in America by 2030," they wrote.

U.S. hunger rate is lowest since start of pandemic

After cresting at 13.7 percent at the end of 2020, the U.S. hunger rate is now the lowest, 7.8 percent, since the pandemic began in early 2020. Analysts say the expanded child tax credit, coronavirus relief programs and rebound from recession all helped. Among families with children, the hunger …

SNAP increase of 40 cents a meal means $20 billion a year for public nutrition

The government will spend an additional $20 billion a year on food stamps, a 27-percent increase in SNAP benefits from pre-pandemic levels, after updating its figures on the cost of a healthy diet, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Anti-hunger groups said the additional 40 cents a meal per person would help millions of Americans avoid hunger.(No paywall)

Biden administration announces largest increase ever in SNAP benefits

The Biden administration will increase SNAP benefits by an average of 25 percent on Oct. 1 — the largest increase in the history of food stamps — based on a reassessment of the cost of a nutritious diet. Analysts and anti-hunger advocates said on Sunday that the increase would improve the diets of millions of poor Americans.(No paywall)

Food insecurity grows by a third due to pandemic

Some 1.2 billion people do not get enough to eat to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle in 76 countries monitored by the USDA for food insecurity, an increase of 291 million people, or 32 percent, caused by the pandemic. "The economies of the countries ... sharply contracted in 2020 due to the widespread pandemic, resulting lockdowns and other controls impacting business activity, employment and incomes," said the annual International Food Security Assessment.

Ongoing delays in P-EBT slow rollout of Biden’s summer food programs

More than two months since the Biden administration announced the most ambitious summer food program in U.S. history, the USDA has approved benefits distribution plans for just 18 states — even with school out of session across the country.

USDA-FDA bill is blank check for SNAP, says GOP

The government is forecast to spend twice as much on SNAP this fiscal year — $114 billion — as it did before the pandemic, and the lead Republican on the House Appropriations Committee said Democrats wrote a blank check for food-stamp spending in the new fiscal year. Majority-party Democrats, meanwhile, said they wanted to make sure SNAP recipients receive their benefits.

In New York City, gig workers facing food insecurity are fighting back

Demand for couriers grew during the pandemic, yet their conditions only deteriorated. Lockdowns cut into their hours, leaving many workers struggling to pay bills and feed families. Eighty percent of gig workers surveyed in the summer of 2020 by the University of California, Los Angeles, Labor Center said they weren’t making enough to meet household expenses. A third did not have enough for groceries.(No paywall)