As we continue to navigate the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity remains a challenge that many Americans are facing. September is Hunger Awareness Month, offering a chance to reflect on the hunger rates among children and their families, and explore the opportunities for policy changes that will support all Americans in accessing healthy food for their families.
Throughout the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has been collecting weekly data on food security through their Household PULSE surveys. Although food insecurity rates peaked in late 2020, current rates remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Evidence indicates that recent policy changes have had a positive impact on families experiencing food insecurity. For example, data suggests that food insecurity decreased slightly after the first federal Child Tax Credit payment in July 2021, but rates rose once again during August, indicating families with children continue to struggle to put food on the table.
Additionally, in August the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided a cost adjustment to the Thrifty Food Plan, which outlines benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to include a permanent increase of nearly 30% to SNAP benefits. This change goes into effect on October 1st, bringing much needed assistance to many households as the temporary SNAP increase expires on September 30th. This permanent SNAP increase is expected to help rural areas where access to affordable, healthy food is an ongoing challenge, including several Kentucky counties with persistently high child poverty rates.
Although we have seen recent policy changes addressing the hunger crisis in America, there is still more work to be done. Right now, advocates have an opportunity to influence what is included in the upcoming reconciliation bill in Congress. Policies that need action now include the expansion of the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) and Summer EBT, and extension of the Child Tax Credit beyond 2021. Tell our federal leaders to prioritize ending childhood hunger by including critical measures in this legislation by:
- Using the Action Toolkit from No Kid Hungry that includes policy information, messaging, and images to share.
- Contacting our Kentucky delegates in the U.S. House and Senate and tell them why these measures are important for Kentuckians.
We need your voice to advocate for the 13 million children nationwide facing hunger every day!
Image courtesy of No Kid Hungry