Government aid and charity kept hunger from skyrocketing during COVID

Regardless of the profound influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on the weak in the US, the share of Individuals in food-insecure households held steady in 2020 at 10.5%, figures launched on September 8, 2021, present.

Though unchanged from 2019, the brand new numbers are necessary for 2 fundamental causes.

First, food insecurity—the state of being unable to adequately present meals for your self or your loved ones—has develop into one of many main, if not the main, indicator of well-being for weak Individuals. And with 38.3 million food-insecure Individuals, the variety of folks affected remains to be excessive.


Second, the truth that the general price didn’t improve regardless of a serious economic downturn underscores the significance of presidency intervention with regards to getting meals to Individuals who want it.

That meals insecurity stayed steady was on account of numerous authorities actions. The Trump administration and Congress funded economic relief and stimulus packages that supplemented the incomes of thousands and thousands of Individuals.

For some households, these measures meant their earnings was greater than it was earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, these households had sufficient cash to pay for a food-secure food regimen. In the meantime, the U.S. Division of Agriculture offered the utmost Supplemental Diet Help Program (SNAP) profit for all recipients on a short lived foundation. This coverage change represented an enormous improve for a lot of households—as much as roughly $620 a month for a family of four.

And the agricultural provide chain was enormously profitable within the face of a worldwide pandemic. This success meant there have been few shortages of food and solely small will increase in costs.

The significance of charitable meals help can also’t be overstated. Meals banks and meals pantries responded nimbly and shortly to an unprecedented improve in demand and provided assistance to at least 60 million Americans in 2020. This was a 50% improve from 2019.

It isn’t all excellent news, although. The meals insecurity hole between white- and Black-led households widened from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, the rates had been 7.9% of white-led households and 19.1% of Black-led households; in 2020, they had been 7.1% and 21.7%. Meaning Black Individuals are round 3 times extra prone to be food-insecure than white folks.

However every little thing would have been a lot, a lot worse each during the COVID-19 pandemic and earlier than the pandemic had been it not for the existence of SNAP. This vitamin program has been proven to alleviate meals insecurity in study after study.


As the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, the US can, I consider, guarantee a “proper to meals” in the US by way of authorities interventions, particularly by way of expansions in advantages and SNAP eligibility.

Craig Gundersen, Professor of Economics, Baylor University

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