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Hunger Surges in the U.S. Following Cuts in Food Aid Programs

PRESS RELEASE: November 23, 2023

In concerning reversal of recent progress, hunger rates in the United States have surged due to the expiration of critical federal food aid programs. This alarming trend, highlighted in a report by Hunger Free America (HFA), indicates a significant increase in food insecurity nationwide, raising urgent concerns about the well-being of millions of Americans.

The HFA’s 2023 National Hunger Survey Report reveals a stark increase in the number of Americans facing hunger. Comparing data from 2021 to 2023, the report found that the number of individuals without sufficient food over a seven-day period rose by 40%, from 19.7 million to 27.8 million. This increase is primarily attributed to the expiration of two key federal policies: the expanded Child Tax Credit and universal school meals.

The expanded Child Tax Credit, a component of the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021, provided eligible families with up to $300 per child each month. However, the program expired at the end of 2021 amid opposition from congressional Republicans and some Democrats, notably Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Similarly, an extension of a pandemic-era policy that allowed public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to millions of children was blocked by congressional Republicans.

The report’s findings are a stark reminder of the critical role federal policies play in combating hunger. With the withdrawal of these programs, vulnerable populations, including children, employed adults, and the elderly, are increasingly at risk. The states with the highest rates of food-insecure children include Delaware, Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Among employed adults, states like Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma report the highest rates of food insecurity. The elderly population is also significantly affected, with Louisiana, Mississippi, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and Oklahoma having the highest rates of food insecurity among older Americans.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, emphasizes the urgency of the situation, calling for immediate action from federal, state, and local leaders. He points out that effective federal public policies had previously been successful in reducing hunger in the U.S., but the recent policy reversals have led to a dramatic increase in hunger. Berg advocates for policies that raise wages and provide a strong safety net to end U.S. hunger and ensure access to adequate, healthy food for all Americans.

The surge in hunger highlights the fragility of food security in the U.S. and the need for sustained and comprehensive policy support. As the nation grapples with this growing crisis, the role of federal leadership becomes increasingly crucial in ensuring that no American goes hungry. The report serves as a call to action, urging policymakers to prioritize the fight against hunger and to reinstate and strengthen programs that have proven effective in providing food security to millions of Americans.

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Hunger Surges in the U.S. Following Cuts in Food Aid Programs
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