Commentary, COVID-19, News

Latest hunger numbers: Our nation is reeling

Suffering hits new levels as Trump and congressional GOP block meaningful action

Be sure to check out this new story from the national food issues journalism nonprofit, The Counter entitled “Study: 29 million American adults don’t have enough to eat—nearly a threefold increase from two years ago.” As reporter Sam Bloch explains:

Months into the pandemic, an American hunger crisis has exploded, with tens of millions of people suddenly wondering if they will be able to put food on the table.

According to a new report commissioned by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), as of July, the number of people who said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat has skyrocketed to 29 million, or 11 percent of adults in the United States. (By comparison, 8 million adults, or around 4 percent, did not have enough to eat in 2018.) In 38 states and Washington, D.C., more than one in ten adults with children had inadequate amounts of food, with the highest rates of hunger in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

As expected, people of color and those without a college education were more likely to go hungry. The pandemic has exacerbated their vulnerabilities: More than 20 percent of Black and Latinx families reported they did not have enough to eat, which is double the rate of whites. Women, who were more likely to have lost their jobs, also reported higher rates of hunger.

Bloch goes on to explain that the hunger crisis is now impacting the American middle class:

Among those who did not have enough to eat overall, one in four have usual incomes above $50,000 a year. Since April, millions of Americans have sought outside food assistance for the first time.

But, of course, you don’t have to read reports to confirm the severity of this crisis. Just get in your car and drive to the nearest highway exit ramp or shopping center entrance and look for the growing number of your fellow citizens who are out in the weather pleading for help.

What’s more, things are likely to get worse and soon. As the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported on Monday, inaction by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration will soon lead to the expiration of a critical anti-hunger safety net program:

As evidence of profound hardship resulting from the COVID-19 health and economic crises mounts, powerful tools to mitigate suffering and bolster economic activity will be unavailable to state and local government without congressional action. A prime example is Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) — a new program, enacted in March 2020 and set to expire at the end of September 2020, that gives families benefits they can use to buy groceries to replace the free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches their children missed while schools were closed due to the pandemic in the 2019-2020 school year.[2] Although it was optional, every state implemented P-EBT, providing families with school-age children benefits ranging from approximately $250 to $450 per child to replace meals missed during the spring.

The bottom line: America is currently failing a basic test of what it means to be a civilized society thanks to the disastrous and immoral policy choices of our national elected leaders.

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