Hunger on the Rise: The Dire Consequences of US Food Aid Cuts

In a disturbing reversal of progress, hunger is once again a growing crisis in the United States. The expiration of crucial federal policies, including the expanded Child Tax Credit and universal school meals, has led to a sharp increase in food insecurity across the nation. The 2023 National Hunger Survey Report by Hunger Free America (HFA) paints a bleak picture: an alarming 40% spike in Americans struggling to put food on the table.

This concerning trend has emerged from a count of 19.7 million food-insecure Americans in September and October of 2021, swelling to an alarming 27.8 million in the same months of 2023. HFA attributes this to the phasing out of federal benefits, which came at a time when costs for essentials like food and housing were skyrocketing.

Key findings of the report reveal a widespread issue:

  • States like Delaware, Nebraska, and Texas are seeing over 20% of their children grappling with food insecurity.
  • In the workforce, states like Arkansas and Texas have over 13% of employed adults living in food-insecure households.
  • Older Americans, especially in states like Louisiana and Mississippi, are increasingly unable to access sufficient food.
  • And while some states like New Hampshire and Minnesota have lower rates, the national trend is unmistakably upward.

Joel Berg, CEO of HFA, calls this report a “jarring wake-up call” for leaders at all levels. The stark rise in child poverty rates, as shown by federal data, further underscores the urgent need for action. The end of the expanded Child Tax Credit, which provided up to $300 per child monthly to eligible families, has significantly contributed to this crisis. The credit’s expiration, largely due to opposition from conservative Congress members and Senator Joe Manchin, has had a profound impact on child poverty.

Manchin’s controversial stance, suggesting parents might misuse these funds, and the Republican blockage of the extension of free school meals have left millions of American families in dire straits. As Berg aptly puts it, the connection is clear: when the government withdraws food aid, hunger inevitably follows.

This situation calls for immediate and effective policy responses. It’s time for political leaders to step up, raise wages, and reinforce the safety net. Only then can we hope to tackle the growing hunger crisis and ensure every American has access to sufficient, nutritious food. As citizens, it’s crucial to hold our leaders accountable and advocate for policies that truly address the needs of the most vulnerable in our society.