In communities across America, the holidays inspire food drives, meals served to the unhoused and donations to food pantries. But by enacting a broad and thoughtful national strategy to end hunger, we can envision a future where the season’s holidays no longer require a tradition of well-meaning interventions by an overwhelmed charitable sector.
The landscape of “abortion deserts” in this country now glaringly resembles the map of where we see the highest rates of food insecurity. The people forced to seek abortion care hundreds of miles away from their homes are the same parents skipping meals so their kids can eat, scrambling to fulfill SNAP work requirements and grocery shopping with calculators to stretch their government benefits as much as possible.
As we rush to supermarkets and plan our holiday meals, one simple, stunning fact should give us all pause: Tens of thousands of America’s military families don’t know if they’ll have enough to eat tomorrow, much less on Thanksgiving.
Military families face unique financial challenges and are thus vulnerable to food insecurity. This is felt acutely among women veterans, veterans of color and military spouses, who are typically women.
Not only has hunger among military families and veterans been a problem for years—rising to new heights during the pandemic—policymakers have repeatedly failed to take even the most basic action to respond to it.
Nearly 40 million Americans faced hunger before the pandemic, and millions will surely continue to struggle even as the country begins its recovery. The FEED Act represents the best kind of creative thinking so desperately needed right now, crossing partisan barriers to feed people who are hungry, uplifting struggling businesses and supporting state and local governments that have been hard-hit by the pandemic’s devastating impact on tax revenues.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put our country through unprecedented pain. While the federal government has finally begun to respond, with a new stimulus package in sight, we are still facing untold suffering, loss of life and economic distress—including truly shocking levels of hunger in our communities.
At a time when more families than ever are struggling to put food on the table, the federal government’s help has been too little and too late.
Prior to COVID-19, nearly 40 million people did not know where they would find their next meal. In the wake of the pandemic, that number has risen to over 60 million and is still climbing. So why haven’t Congress and the Trump administration moved heaven and earth to get SNAP to all those Americans who need it?
Many of us are stunned by the coronavirus outbreak, unsure exactly what to do or how to proceed. Should we stockpile food? Work remotely from the couch? Cancel weekend plans?
But what if you don’t have enough money to feed your family in the first place? What if you can’t afford not to show up for work? What if you work in the service industry, where you can’t just work remotely? What if your community is still struggling to recover from the last financial crisis, and you have been out of work for months or years? What if your children’s school closes and they don’t have access to their usual free or reduced-price meals?
Hunger is not and has never been a meaningful incentive to find employment when employment is not there to be had. Yet the Trump Administration just announced a new rule restricting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for nearly 700,000 so-called “able-bodied adults without dependents.”
Until we can change the system that allows people to remain hungry, we cannot and will not rest. Not while a mother still anguishes when she has to put a child to bed hungry. Not while those struggling still forgo help because of stigma. Not while anyone in our country remains unable to access the food they need to thrive.