The COVID-19 public health and economic crisis has resulted in significantly elevated levels of food insecurity. Millions of Americans, including disproportionate numbers of children and Black and Latino households, have struggled to afford enough food over the past year.
Nationwide, the number of households who are not getting enough to eat has remained at nearly three times pre-pandemic levels. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports, some 24 million adults (11 percent) report that their household sometimes or often did not get enough to eat in the last seven days. In comparison, 8.5 million adults (3.4 percent) reported living in households that did not get enough to eat at some point during 2019.
At the state level, 11 percent of North Carolina adults live in households that do not have enough to eat. Meanwhile, 24 percent of North Carolina adults living with children report that the children are not getting enough to eat because of a difficulty affording enough food.
The $1.9 trillion pandemic response and economic relief package, the American Rescue Plan, expected to be signed into law by President Biden this week will extend and expand crucial nutrition assistance to provide support to these children and families. The anticipated package will extend a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021, which amounts to an average increase of $27 in benefits per person per month. The package will also allow states to continue the P-EBT program, which provides food assistance benefits during school closures to families with school age children who normally eat meals at school. The package also seeks to improve service delivery and increases the amount of fruit and vegetables available to participants of the WIC nutrition program for low-income women, infants, and children.
Heba Atwa is a policy advocate at the N.C. Budget & Tax Center.