Check out FRAC’s COVID-19 page for back-to-school updates during COVID-19, including a tracker for school reopening guidance and the latest on child nutrition program waivers.
COVID-19: School Meals
Advocates push Congress to act to curb child hunger, National Journal, September 7, 2020 The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced it would extend a food program providing free meals to children into the fall, a move that lawmakers and hunger advocates praised. But advocates argue the program needs to be available for the rest of the academic calendar going into 2021. “We remain hopeful that these waivers would be extended through the rest of the year because we think there’s still going to be a lot of need for flexibility after December 31, 2020,” said Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school time programs at the Food Research & Action Center.
Ensuring Kids Get Meals as They Head Back to School, Public News Service, August 27, 2020 “We need to make sure that there’s enough flexibility within the child nutrition program so that communities can operate the programs and provide meals to the families who need them most,” Crystal FitzSimons of Food Research & Action Center.
A perfect storm of job loss, rising food prices, and school closings, and the loss of subsidized school meals, has resulted in “a hidden epidemic of hunger in America,” said Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school time programs at the Food Research & Action Center.
Michigan education leaders secure meal flexibility to feed students, Press and Guide, September 8, 2020 The federal government made a change recently to how school districts will distribute free student meals this year. “Even if the announcement came very late, we are glad we are able to continue a more robust meal distribution program for our community,” said Jeff Murphy, Dearborn (Michigan) Public Schools’ director of food service. “Now we need to get the word out to the community that the meal distribution process will be the simpler, familiar process they have seen in one form or another since March.”
Create a Parent-Teacher Relationship, The Eastchester Review, September 3, 2020 A study by the Food Research & Action Center found that breakfast has a direct correlation on behavior, participation, and overall performance in students.
COVID-19: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Louisiana receives waiver to allow purchase of “hot foods” with SNAP benefits, KALB, September 4, 2020 In response to Hurricane Laura, Louisiana SNAP recipients can now use their benefits to purchase “hot” or prepared foods from authorized SNAP retailers during the month of September, following waiver approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services. Normally, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase “hot food products prepared for immediate consumption.” Waiving that restriction is vital in the immediate aftermath of a storm, such as Hurricane Laura, where many residents are displaced and cannot access a kitchen to prepare their meals.
State Announces New Supplemental SNAP Increases in September, Los Alamos Reporter, September 3, 2020 “As we continue to navigate this challenging time, we are doing all we can to help New Mexicans keep food on the table,” said Karmela Martinez, director of the New Mexico Human Services Department’s Income Support Division which administers SNAP. “This pandemic has created economic strains for many New Mexico families, and help, support, and resources are available.” SNAP households will automatically receive the additional allotment in the same way they receive their current benefits.
USDA should expand SNAP during pandemic, food bank officials say, KTLA 5, September 7, 2020 Anti-hunger advocates say that while they appreciate the delivery of fresh, high-quality food, many more people could be helped if the federal government would increase spending on SNAP. So far, proposals in Congress to increase SNAP funding have failed, leaving food bank leaders cautioning that there is a limit to how many people they can help.
COVID-19: Disparate Impact
America at Hunger’s Edge, The New York Times, September 2, 2020 In the pandemic economy, nearly 1 in 8 households doesn’t have enough to eat. The lockdown, with its epic lines at food banks, has revealed what was hidden in plain sight: that the struggle to make food last long enough, and to get food that’s healthful — what experts call “food insecurity” is a persistent one for millions of Americans. Food insecurity is as much about the threat of deprivation as it is about deprivation itself: A food-insecure life means a life lived in fear of hunger, and the psychological toll that takes. Like many hardships, this burden falls disproportionately on Black and Hispanic families, who are almost twice as likely to experience food insecurity as white families.
Amid coronavirus pandemic, more people need government food assistance. How’s your state doing?, USA Today, September 5, 2020 In March, shortly after the start of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak, 37.1 million individuals received SNAP benefits. In April, that figure rose 15.8 percent to 43 million people, well above the pre-pandemic monthly average. All but four states reported increases in SNAP recipients between March and April this year, and USA Today compiled a list of SNAP changes related to COVID-19 in all 50 states.
This Labor Day, America Needs HEROES, September 4, 2020 Labor Day traditionally honors America’s workers. It reminds us annually how important jobs, decent pay, and safe working conditions are for our nation. This Labor Day, too many of our fellow Americans are struggling with job loss, cutbacks in hours, and food hardship. Over 10.6 million more Americans were unemployed in July 2020 than in February 2020. Hardship is particularly acute among Black- and Latinx-headed households.
FRAC is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Visit our website to learn more.
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