FRAC’s COVID-19 Updates Check out FRAC's COVID-19 page for updates, statements, and resources on actions to address the food security, public health, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 emergency.
COVID-19: Food Insecurity on the Rise
April Saw the Sharpest Increase in Grocery Store Prices in Nearly 50 Years, The Washington Post, May 12, 2020 “It’s a tipping point for people who are already really struggling with resources,” said Geri Henchy, director of nutrition policy for the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). “Their budgets are taxed and now add increases in the price of food. There’s been a big increase in food insecurity, which is twice as bad for people of color and families with young children. People can’t go on with those lowered resources forever.”
‘Mamá, I’m Still Hungry’: In Puerto Rico, Child Hunger Becomes A Flashpoint, National Public Radio, May 13, 2020 In Puerto Rico, school cafeterias closed along with the schools since Governor Wanda Vázquez was concerned for the safety of cafeteria workers who were mostly older women. As households struggled to feed their children and public pressure mounted, the first cafeterias reopened on May 6. “Public opinion really forced the government to reconsider its decision and reopen the lunch rooms,” said Denise Santos, president of the Puerto Rico Food Bank. She said that after the schools closed, she was inundated with more requests for food for children than the food bank could meet. “Most Puerto Ricans live from paycheck to paycheck, so eight weeks without any income made the situation very urgent for a lot of families.”
US sees biggest food price rises in 46 years, Al Jazeera English, May 16, 2020 According to the U.S. Labor Department, food prices have increased 2.6 percent in April. Geri Henchy, Director of Nutrition Policy and Early Childhood Programs at FRAC, states that 1 in 5 families is food insecure. The number is 2 in 5 for families with children under the age of 12 and higher for African American and Hispanic families.
As hunger grows in Connecticut, there’s a push in Washington to expand food stamps, CT Mirror, May 12, 2020 According to a poll of Connecticut residents by Quinnipiac University, about 26 percent of residents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about having enough food to eat. The strain on food banks could be seen as Foodshare President Jason Jakublowski said 75 percent of the people picking up bags of food at Rentschler Field had never visited a food bank before.
CalFresh enrollments nearly triple in L.A. County as more face food insecurity, Los Angeles Daily News, May 12, 2020 CalFresh, California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), saw a rise in applications in April 2020, up to 126,875 compared to 43,747 in April 2019. April was also CalFresh Awareness Month, working to remove stigma around using the program. Veronica Toledo, associate director with United Parents and Students, said 41 percent of Los Angeles parents with young children are now skipping or cutting back on meals to make ends meet, pointing to a recent poll by The Education Trust-West. Multiple leaders across the state are working to increase food access for state residents.
Coronavirus is Exacerbating America’s Hunger Crisis, Vox, May 11, 2020 “The biggest weakness in SNAP is the amount of benefits — the degree to which they are inadequate,” says Ellen Vollinger, the legal director of FRAC. “It’s why food banks report that they serve a lot of SNAP customers.”
My Turn: Andrew Schiff: Increase SNAP benefits to end child hunger amid pandemic, Providence Journal, May 14, 2020 In this opinion piece by Andrew Schiff, CEO of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, argues that as hunger needs increase in Rhode Island, food banks and schools are struggling to keep up with demand. While allowing schools to offer grab and go meals as well as implementing Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program are effective, Congress must strengthen SNAP benefits “so that all families can afford to feed their children.”
NC has expanded food assistance during the pandemic. It should be a permanent change, The Progressive Pulse, May 12, 2020 In this opinion piece by Dissemination Specialist & Project Manager Juliana de Groot at the Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention at UNC Chapel Hill, de Groot highlights the fact that the pandemic is bringing racial disparities across the country into the spotlight. For example, Black and other communities of color are affected at disproportionate rates because of inequalities and historical barriers to access for health care and economic opportunities. Additionally, rural communities may have less access to fresh produce. The author challenges that the solutions to these inequalities should focus on creating long term equal access to food.
COVID-19: SNAP Waivers
DC SNAP Beneficiaries Can Buy Groceries Online Through Amazon, WUSA9, May 13, 2020 “Unfortunately, people using SNAP benefits have been forced to go to grocery stores still during this, they haven’t been able to use their benefits to order food online and have it delivered to them,” Melissa Jensen, anti-hunger program associate for D.C. Hunger Solutions, said. Jensen said stay-at-home orders have made it harder for people to get food, and food stamp applications in the District are up 100 percent.
COVID-19: Summer Meals
School Meal Programs Seek Relief, Plan for Uncertain Summer, Education Dive, May 11, 2020 Even if officials “ease up” on social distancing rules, it’s unlikely schools and other meal providers will be “encouraging 100 kids to congregate at a summer food site in a park,” said Crystal FitzSimons, the director of school and out-of-school time programs at FRAC. She added many summer camps, which typically participate in the summer meal program, are closed anyway. School nutrition programs and nonprofit meal providers need to know if the waivers will be extended because “they can’t turn their programs on a dime.”
COVID-19: SNAP Heads Back to Court
With Millions Out of Work, the Trump Administration Pushes to Limit Food Stamps, Time Magazine, May 13, 2020 In the midst of the pandemic and a rise in food insecurity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a notice on Tuesday that it was appealing a judge’s injunction that blocked the cabinet agency from proceeding with cuts to SNAP, an act which could strip 688,000 Americans off of these benefits.
COVID-19: HEROES Act
Governors warn COVID-19 relief is becoming a ‘political football,’ The Hill, May 13, 2020 Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) released a joint statement saying that they need at least $500 billion in aid to make up for revenue lost during the pandemic. This comes as House Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion aid package which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called “exactly the wrong approach.”
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