Despite the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the significant increase in federal food aid did not increase the number of U.S. households considered “food insecurity” during 2020. bottom. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that at some point last year, more than one in ten U.S. households were food shortages, and despite a surge in federal assistance, hunger was racial and regional. The gap has widened.
But now that the pandemic is skyrocketing nationwide, last year a support program that prevented countless American families from facing food shortages began to end, and more Americans soon began to end. You are more likely to be hungry.
According to a USDA report published Wednesday, 10.5% of US households did not have access to “enough food for an active and healthy life for all household members” in at least some of 2020. This is the same as the previous year’s survey results.
The study defines the situation as “one or more household members experienced reduced food intake and dietary disruptions due to limited funding and other resources to obtain food.” We are also tracking people who have “very low food security”. At some point in 2020, a subset of households that were judged to have “very low food security” accounted for 3.9% of all households.
Wide and effective aid program
Many changes have been made to the government’s food assistance program as part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic. People enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Federal Food Stamp Program, are automatically eligible for the highest level of support in the program. Other programs have been implemented to provide supplementary benefits to low-income pregnant women and children with access to fresh vegetables, fruits and cheese.
In addition to direct food aid, the federal government has approved extensions to unemployment insurance benefits and a $ 300 weekly supplement to those benefits.
The USDA study did not specifically link the increased profits to the fact that hunger rates remained stable during the pandemic, but the anti-hunger group said the relationship was clear.
“The fact that the overall number of hunger in the United States did not increase dramatically is that the routes and steps taken by the federal government, Congress and the administration throughout the year are the right approach and our nutrition program is working. It shows that we are. ” Eric Mitchell, Executive Director of the Alliance to End Hanger.
Racial disparity found
The overall numbers give the big picture of an effective pandemic response, but the details show that there is a significant hole in the social safety net that lawmakers sought to increase last year.
The proportion of food insecurity in white non-Hispanic households actually decreased from 7.9% to 7.1% in the pandemic year. However, for black households, food insecurity in 2020 affected 21.7%, up from 19.1% in the previous year. The rate of food insecurity also increased in Hispanic households, but the change was not statistically significant.
Overall, black households could suffer more than three times as much food insecurity as white households in 2020. Hispanic households were 2.4 times more likely to have food shortages than white households.
(The USDA report encodes the race of a household by determining the race of a single “referencer”, usually the owner of the home or the person named in the rental agreement, a multi-ethnic household. Does not classify.)
Differences between regions and households
In the survey, hunger rates in the northeast, midwest, and west all declined year-on-year, but only in the midwest, which was statistically significant. But in the South, hunger increased by a statistically significant amount, rising from 11.2% in 2019 to 12.3% in 2020.
Households with children are significantly more likely to face food insecurity than average, at 14.8%, and with children under the age of 6, that percentage has risen to 15.3%.
“The gap was before COVID,” Mitchell said. [the pandemic] It exacerbated those disparities … and made them even more alarming. “
Expiring aid program
This month, during the first 20 months of the pandemic, many of the programs that allow Americans to keep food on the table are beginning to expire. Payments for the enhanced unemployment allowance ended as of this week, and Congress was unable to extend the eviction moratorium that prevented people behind the rent from losing their homes.
Similar to the program that provides access to fresh food for some low-income households, the expanded SNAP benefits will expire at the end of this month.
“Parliament and government need to work together to find solutions that allow the changes made to be extended, and even better, they need to be permanent,” Mitchell said. Stated. We need to create a political will to make that happen. “
The fight against hunger is a bipartisan issue in Congress, but there is a great deal of disagreement about how to do it. Many Republicans in Washington, for example, oppose large spending bills being pushed by Democrats, which will make some of the new social safety net spending permanent.
Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, a top Republican member of the House’s Methods and Means Committee, issued a statement Thursday. Higher, killing millions of American jobs, driving them abroad, and heralding a new era of government dependence with the greatest expansion of the welfare state in our lives. “
Many Democrats support further safety net spending, including strong federal efforts to ensure food security. Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro recently tweeted, “We have the ability to prevent American hunger. It’s a policy choice.”
Aid programs reduced US hunger in 2020, but racial inequality worsened | Voice of America
Source link Aid programs reduced US hunger in 2020, but racial inequality worsened | Voice of America