For rural grocery stores, the pandemic is personal

Grocery delivery is nothing new, and it certainly has become much more common since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But for stores like Michigan Hometown Foods, which is  the lone grocery in a town of 275 people, the process looks a lot different than it does in a larger city, as Stephanie Parker reports in FERN latest story.(No paywall)

Despite threat of fines, jail time, price gouging still rampant in California farmworker communities

People in some of California’s poorest towns still face exorbitant prices on staple foods more than a month after the governor declared a state of emergency that made price gouging illegal. The practice has been particularly insidious in farmworker towns like El Centro, in the Imperial Valley, and Delano, in the San Joaquin Valley. In both towns, like so many of the state’s farmworker communities, more than a quarter of residents live in poverty and most are Latino.(No paywall)

Covid-19 relief bill suspends SNAP work and training requirements

The Senate is expected to vote this week on the House-passed Covid-19 relief bill that suspends work and job-training requirement for SNAP recipients, a step that could preserve benefits for hundreds of thousands of people. "I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the weekend.(No paywall)

Biggest rise in restaurant and takeaway food prices in a decade

Although U.S. food prices generally show small increases from year to year, the USDA says prices for "food away from home," a category that includes restaurants, carry-out food and institutional meals, rose 3.1 percent in 2019. That's the largest increase since 3.5 percent in 2009 and is part of a pattern in which the price of food away from home rises more rapidly than retail prices for groceries.

Trumps selects Lipps for long-vacant USDA nutrition post

After nearly three years in office, President Trump has a nominee for agriculture undersecretary for nutrition, Brandon Lipps, who has been running USDA’s public nutrition programs since July 2017. As a House staff worker, Lipps helped engineer $8.6 billion in food stamp cuts in the 2014 farm …

Colleges resort to ‘food scholarships,’ pantries to help hungry, homeless students

With Congress mired in partisan gridlock and the White House showing little interest, the nation's colleges and universities are scrambling to address the growing crisis of hungry, homeless students, as Bridget Huber reports in FERN's latest story.(No paywall)

Vacancy at the top of USDA as Perdue gains a full-time deputy for nutrition

After two years with a title that suggested he was a placeholder, Brandon Lipps formally became deputy undersecretary for nutrition at the Agriculture Department on Monday. The Trump administration has not filled the top nutrition post at USDA, so Lipps will continue to run programs such as SNAP and school lunch, as he has since July 2017.

Global glut of palm oil adds to India’s health woes

Rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases have soared in India and other developing countries in recent years, coinciding with a flood of cheap palm oil that is used in everything from processed snacks and fast food to traditional foods like samosas and poori, according to the latest story from FERN, published with The Nation. 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