Biden takes aim at food insecurity with first hunger conference in 50 years – live | US politics
Why is the White House convening a summit on food insecurity for the first time in half a century? As The Guardian’s Nina Lakhani reports, a combination of high inflation and the end of pandemic support programs has squeezed vulnerable households, prompting the Biden administration to step in with a pledge to end hunger by 2030. Here’s more from her report:
When was the last food conference?
The last food conference, hosted by Richard Nixon in 1969, was a pivotal moment in American food policy that led to the expansion of food stamps and gave rise to the Women, Infants and Children program that today provides parenting advice, breastfeeding support and food assistance to the mothers of half the babies born each year.
How bad is hunger in the US now?
One in 10 households struggled to feed their families in 2021 due to poverty – an extraordinary level of food insecurity in the richest country in the world. The rate has barely budged in the past two decades amid deepening economic inequalities and welfare cuts.
Food insecurity remains stubbornly high in the US, with only a slight downward trend from 2021 – but significantly lower than 2020 when the Covid shutdown and widespread layoffs led to record numbers of Americans relying on food banks and food stamps to get by.
The conference comes as the cost of food is soaring due to double-digit inflation, and amid fears of recession. The cost of groceries in July was up 13.1% compared with last year, with the price of cereal, bread and dairy products rising even higher, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Households are under more pressure as states roll back pandemic-linked financial support such as free school meals for every child and child tax credits. Many states are stopping expanded food stamp benefits.
Real-time data from the US Census survey “suggest that food hardship has been steadily rising in families with children this year”, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, recently told the Guardian.
Good morning, US politics blog readers. The United States may be the world’s biggest economy and one of the wealthiest nations on the planet but everyday, many Americans struggle to provide enough food for their family. The Biden administration will today convene the first summit in 50 years aimed at turning around this trend, with the goal of ending hunger by 2030 and reducing diseases related to nutrition. Joe Biden will speak at the event at 10am ET.
Here’s what else is happening today: