Throughout our “old normal,” far too many individuals struggled to put food on the table. And as the world continues to adjust and shift to a new reality amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout, it’s clear that there will still be families in the U.S. who will face food insecurity this year and beyond. As long as hunger persists, our nation cannot afford to “return to business as usual” or accept our current circumstances.
In the months ahead, households will continue to be impacted by barriers to having enough to eat – signaling the need for lawmakers to continue to invest in federal nutrition programs that will make it easier for all our neighbors to access healthy, nutritious meals.
Learn more about three reasons why families will continue facing hunger amid our “new normal” – and how lawmakers can take action.
1. Potential expiration of some food support benefits that are helping bolster the economy and support families
Feeding America estimates that 1 in 8 people could face hunger due to the pandemic in 2021. To keep tables full, measures in earlier COVID-19 recovery legislation have helped provide additional food assistance to individuals facing hunger and food banks, including an expansion of the Child Tax Credit that is expected to cut child poverty in half. However, without action from lawmakers, these measures are expected to expire in the coming months. By continuing the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, and investing in federal nutrition programs such as the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer EBT) program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), our decision-makers can ensure families do not go to bed hungry. Without additional legislation to help families weather the dual public health and economic crises, there is no way that the Feeding America network can fill in the gap of our federal food programs to increase food security and to help local economies bounce back.
2. Back-to-school season looks different across the country
According to data compiled by Education Week, states are using a wide array of approaches to kick off the new school year. For families whose schools will remain closed or operate virtually, the ability of children to access school meals this 2021-20222 school year may be uncertain. If school districts are forced to close or shift to different learning models, these circumstances may unequivocally impact families’ access to fresh, nutritious meals.
3. Increase in food prices due to disruptions in the supply chain
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent Will COVID-19 Threaten Availability and Affordability of our Food? blog indicates that at the beginning of the COVID-19 spread, as consumers rushed to stock up on food items, there was a sudden and significant increase in demand from grocery stores, which led to shortages and higher prices of some products. Now, due to swift jumps in demand and continued outbreaks across the nation, there is still uncertainty and disruptions in the supply chain impacting whether our neighbors in need will be able to access grocery staples.
Learn how you can support families during these tough times and how Feeding America is taking key actions to help fight hunger in our communities.