Price tag for new nutrition and ag spending nears $100 billion

During congressional committee work on the Biden administration's $3.5 trillion "build back better" bill, majority-party House Democrats approved a $35 billion expansion of child nutrition programs last week and were expected to vote on Monday for an additional $66 billion for forestry, rural economic development and agricultural research.

Biden proposes 16 percent increase in child nutrition outlays

The Biden administration’s proposals to expand a summer food program for school-age children and to encourage schools in high-poverty areas to provide meals for free to all students would add an average $4 billion a year to the cost of USDA’s child nutrition programs. Headlined by …

USDA spending nearly doubles during pandemic

The Agriculture Department will spend nearly $289 billion this fiscal year, almost double its pre-pandemic level of outlays, according to USDA budget data. The increase is due chiefly to coronavirus relief payments to farmers and increases in public nutrition programs such as the Supplemental …

‘Put kids first,’ say advocates in call for universal free school meals

On the heels of new legislation that would provide free school meals to all American children, advocates from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), American Academy of Pediatrics and American Federation of Teachers doubled down on the urgent need for action amid persistent childhood hunger and an escalating obesity crisis.(No paywall)

Free meals proposed for all students

Congress should permanantly expand the school food program so that all public school students can eat breakfast and lunch for free, said the School Nutrition Association on Tuesday. The association said many school food directors expect to run a deficit this school year because of school closures and the higher cost of preparing and serving meals during the pandemic.

A ‘hungry winter’ ahead, as food insecurity remains severe

Child hunger has dipped since the summer but still remains near record levels, according to a new analysis from The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project. With Thanksgiving around the corner, the findings point to enduring hardship and food insecurity, eight months after the first pandemic-related shutdowns began. (No paywall)

School meal programs have lost more than $483 million so far during the pandemic

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)

Replacing school meals, P-EBT program lifted millions of children out of hunger

The Pandemic EBT program, created by Congress to help low-income families buy food for their children during school closures, "is hitting its target," said researchers at the Brookings Institution. "We find that Pandemic EBT reduces food hardship faced by children by 30 percent in the week following its disbursement."

School lunch count plummeted as schools closed in pandemic

Participation in the school lunch program nosedived 28 percent during the first months of the pandemic despite breakneck efforts across the nation to provide an alternative to meals in the cafeteria, said USDA data. An anti-hunger group said extension of the so-called P-EBT program and an increase in SNAP benefits were needed to treat "this child hunger crisis."