UN agency warns action needed to prevent ‘food crisis’

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)

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)

What ‘anxiety baking’ says about socioeconomics and a poor diet

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)

Project aims to feed low-income children in Ohio during school closures

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)

Covid-19 drives emergency steps for school food in two states

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 poverty rate drops twice as fast as U.S. average, still high

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.

Climate change puts more than a billion people at risk of iron deficiency

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.

New report finds rate of ‘food hardship’ has risen since 2016

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.

New York taps controversial bonus program to preserve SNAP at farmers markets

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to ensure farmers markets can continue accepting SNAP benefits through the end of the market season relies on funding from a controversial federal program that rewards states for implementing SNAP with low error rates—and that lawmakers may eliminate in the next farm bill. (No paywall)

A contract is rebid, and 40 percent of SNAP sales at farmers markets are up in the air

Earlier this year, when the USDA changed the vendor that runs its program that allows farmers markets to take SNAP benefits, it set off a chain reaction that could soon prevent thousands of poor people from using those benefits at the markets, reports FERN’s latest piece, published with The Washington Post. No paywall