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.
Congress should allow an additional year of federal waivers that make all children eligible for free meals at public schools, said nearly 2,000 anti-hunger, medical, religious and farm groups on Monday. The waivers are scheduled to expire on June 30 but the pandemic is far from over, said the groups in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees.
Even before Covid-19 hit, disabled people were at greater risk of food insecurity because of higher rates of unemployment, lower earnings, and transportation and accessibility barriers. The pandemic only exacerbated these disparities. In 2020, disabled adults were twice as likely to be food insecure as adults without disabilities.
As the Senate debates the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the U.S. military, anti-hunger advocates say the bill would take an important first step toward addressing the long-standing problem of food insecurity among service members. The bill would boost the pay of the lowest-earning members of the military, giving them a so-called basic needs allowance to help cover the cost of food and other necessities. (No paywall)
Households with very low incomes will be eligible for an additional $95 a month or more in emergency allotments of food stamps, said the Biden administration. The additional aid to an estimated 25 million people would amount to $1 billion a month nationwide and ends a dispute over pandemic aid that began in the Trump era.
The USDA said Tuesday that it will extend a series of waivers to school meal programs through Sept. 30, as the pandemic hits its one-year mark and ongoing school closures continue to exacerbate food insecurity among low-income children. (No paywall)
Amid the flurry of executive orders that marked his first 48 hours in office, President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he will ask the USDA to expand two critical food-assistance programs, as hunger continues to plague millions during the pandemic. The orders will raise SNAP benefits and increase funds awarded through the Pandemic-EBT program, which transfers the dollar amount of school lunches onto debit cards to compensate for meals kids miss while schools are closed. The early moves confirm expectations that the new administration will be serious about tackling food insecurity, through both general financial assistance and targeted food aid.(No paywall)
Federal legislation introduced this month to automatically enroll children of eligible service members into school meals programs reflects the scope of food insecurity among military families — a population that often gets overlooked in coverage of hunger and economic hardship.(No paywall)
More than four in 10 American children live in households that are struggling to afford such basic expenses as food and medical bills, according to detailed data released yesterday by the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. Advocates say the new data, coupled with findings from the previous Pulse survey, paints a grim picture of childhood hardship and highlights the urgent need for new economic relief measures.(No paywall)
School meal programs have taken a massive financial hit during the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey from the School Nutrition Association. The survey, which includes responses from school nutrition directors in 1,614 school districts across the country, points to the crippling costs of adapting to pandemic-related constraints, and significant losses due to a drop in participation in the school-lunch program.(No paywall)
A critical tool for fighting child hunger is set to expire at the end of the month, despite persistent need among millions of children due to the pandemic. The Pandemic-EBT program was created in March to give families funds to buy groceries in lieu of free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches their children would otherwise have been getting at school. Unless Congress renews the program before Sept. 30, eligible families will lose access to the benefit until at least after the presidential election. (No paywall)
The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development committed $40 million to support farmers and rural communities in producing food during the coronavirus pandemic. "We need to act now to stop this health crisis transforming into a food crisis," said IFAD president Gilbert Houngbo. IFAD hopes to raise an additional $200 million from UN members, foundations and the private sector. (No paywall)
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)
Comfort food is having its moment because all of us, even those with relative means, are feeling decidedly uncomfortable right now. But for millions of low-income Americans, there won’t be any return to the gym, the running club, or sensible eating when the virus is behind us. Not only do these families typically have less access to healthier food and safe spaces for exercise, they were already enduring the very same pressures now driving more affluent Americans to overeat unhealthy food: job insecurity, cramped living spaces, poorer sleep, a dearth of childcare, and lack of assured access to medical care.(No paywall)
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the second public-private initiative to provide replacement meals for low-income children who lost access to free or reduced-price meals due to school closures. The new project would feed children "vulnerable to hunger" in Ohio and follows the creation of an effort in Texas to offer shelf-stable meals to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.(No paywall)
The USDA approved requests from California and Washington State to provide free meals to low-income students when schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The waivers, good through June 30, were the first by USDA to help schools deal with the disease in part by allowing them to stop serving meals in group settings, such as a cafeteria.
Rural incomes are up and the rural poverty rate is down, dropping twice as fast as the U.S. average, said the Census Bureau on Wednesday in its annual report on income and poverty.
Rising levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reduce the amount of nutrients in staple crops such as rice and wheat, say researchers at Harvard's public health school. As a consequence, more than 1 billion women and children would lose a large amount of their dietary iron intake and be at larger risk of anemia and other diseases.
A new report from the Food Research and Action Center found that the food hardship rate for households across the country has increased from 15.1 percent in 2016 to 15.7 percent in 2017. The rate increase was higher for households with children, from 17.5 percent to 18.4 percent. The study comes as wages remain stagnant, despite falling unemployment.