Nutrition Programs Help Families Survive the Pandemic

Child drinking milk

Despite the devastation of the pandemic, recent data from the USDA show that the overall rate of hunger in the United States remained unchanged in 2020—and poverty actually declined. You and other Bread for the World members pushed Congress and the administration to expand nutrition programs and other assistance to help families get through the pandemic.

Recent studies by the Census Bureau have shown that expanded unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, increases in SNAP benefits, and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit have all been used by families to purchase more food and more nutritious food.

Because of increased tracking during the pandemic, we have new, real-time proof of how government assistance programs help end hunger and give families the support they need to get back on their feet.

The top-line hunger numbers are encouraging but often mask the disparities that still exist among communities. The USDA data show that Black households experience nearly triple the rate of hunger compared with white households—a gap that widened in 2020. Hispanic households experience roughly double the rate of hunger compared to white households.

Bread for the World is working to persuade our leaders to extend this assistance, and, in some cases, make it permanently available—so that all Americans have the opportunity to receive help when they need it.

In the new year, you and other Bread for the World members will have opportunities to urge Congress and the administration to make these improvements permanent. The reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2023 will provide opportunities to make further progress toward ending hunger in the United States.

Bread for the World will also continue its work to eliminate hunger overseas. Thanks to Bread for the World’s leadership, the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act (H.R. 4693/S.2956) has been introduced in both chambers. Bread for the World members continue to urge their members of Congress to co-sponsor and pass this bipartisan legislation. 

Bread for the World is also encouraging the Biden Administration to act on the Nourish the Future initiative. Nourish the Future is a 5-year strategy with specific recommendations related to countries, funding, and interventions. It will save the lives of 2 million children and improve the lives of 500 million women and children in nine focus countries.   

Matt Gross, Bread for the World’s director of organizing, notes that during the pandemic, Bread for the World members and Bread Teams became more active and effective. “Our collective Christian voice is stronger than ever. We’re poised to win significant progress toward ending hunger.”

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