While Republicans objected to the cost of public nutrition programs such as SNAP, the leader of the House Appropriations Committee said on Wednesday that “we will be doing something about extending the waivers of the school meals programs.” The waivers, a response to the pandemic that allows free meals for all public school students, are due to expire on June 30.
Americans are turning to food banks for help in the face of rising food, fuel, child care and housing costs, the chief executive of the Atlanta Community Food Bank told lawmakers on Tuesday. "Our distribution volumes are rising again" and now match the early months of the pandemic, when hunger was on the rise, said Kyle Waide, the chief executive.
Warning that “pandemic aid is morphing into endemic aid,” the Republican leader on the House Agriculture Committee said on Wednesday that it was time to rein in food stamp spending. Other farm-state Republicans called for stricter eligibility rules as a way to push people into the workforce and said SNAP “promotes a perverse business of poverty.”
Federal spending on food stamps will rise by $24 billion this fiscal year, largely due to USDA's recalculation of the cost of a nutritious diet, said the Congressional Budget Office in a budget outlook that makes projections about the state of the federal budget and economy through 2032. The 18 percent increase in outlays would boost the cost of SNAP to $159 billion.
In a White House video, President Biden said on Wednesday that the administration would “lay out our plan to combat hunger and improve nutrition for every American” at the hunger, nutrition, and health conference set for September. More than 10 percent of Americans were food insecure and hunger rates spiked during the early months of the pandemic.
With more than 38 million Americans food insecure, President Biden announced on Wednesday the White House will hold a conference on hunger and nutrition in September. It will be the first hunger conference since 1969 and would launch a national plan on ending hunger in the United States, said the White House.
With farm bill reauthorization coming up next year, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Thursday focusing on SNAP, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the bill’s budget. But foreshadowing what could be a messy process, Democratic and Republican lawmakers staked out familiar ground and sparred over the food assistance program.
With the pandemic providing the impetus, the USDA made online shopping available to SNAP recipients in 49 states and the District of Columbia, with Alaska the only exception. Now researchers have found that online SNAP shoppers are far less likely to buy fresh produce, meat or seafood than if they went to supermarkets, but they also cut back on candy, cookies and cake, according to a new study.
The Biden administration extended the Covid-19 public health emergency on Wednesday, keeping increased nutrition benefits for millions of families in place for the coming months.
"Anti-hunger advocates worry that the nation may be approaching a 'hunger cliff,' as some states are ending emergency SNAP benefits even as demand at food pantries—and Covid case numbers—are rising again," writes Bridget Huber in FERN's latest story.
Food stamps had a greater effect in reducing poverty rates in rural America than in urban areas when viewed through the Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure, said an American Enterprise Institute newsletter. Northwestern University professor Diane Schanzenbach calculated that SNAP lowered the poverty rate in rural areas by 1.4 percentage points compared to a 0.8 point reduction in urban America.
Food stamp enrollment will remain high well into 2023 due to the lingering effects of the pandemic and its disruption of the U.S. economy, said the Agriculture Department in its proposed budget for the new fiscal year. It estimated an average 43.5 million people would receive food stamps during fiscal 2023, a 3 percent increase from this year.
After decades of fighting hunger with food stamps, WIC, and school lunch, the USDA will raise its aim to nutrition security, meaning consistent access to healthful foods for all Americans, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. The new approach will rely on food education and outreach to neglected groups as well as stronger nutrition standards in federal food programs.
Poverty, hunger and poor health are interlinked problems, ones that some doctors and medical systems are trying to address by screening patients for food insecurity, connecting them with food and other resources, and advocating broadly against inequality.(No paywall)
A bipartisan bill, introduced on Tuesday by Sens. Tammy Duckworth, Lisa Murkowski and 12 other senators, aims to make it easier for servicemembers to receive SNAP benefits. As many as one in five members of the U.S. military experience food insecurity, but many are unable to get SNAP benefits because they receive housing allowances that are counted as income, which puts them over the limit for eligibility.
With increasing attention in recent years to the problem of food insecurity on college campuses, anti-hunger advocates have pushed to sign more students up for SNAP benefits. But many students still don’t realize that they may qualify for the program, said Michelle Fausto, a fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center.
Federally-funded programs that encourage low-income people to consume more fresh produce are having a positive impact on dietary health and the economy, according to an evaluation published on Tuesday.
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.