How the Debt Ceiling Deal Affects Food Insecurity and other Hunger Stories in the News

40-million-americans-face-hunger-every-day.svgAcross the United States, over 34 million people face food insecurity, including 1 in 8 children. Since our inception in 2009, Move For Hunger has transported over 34 million lbs of food, over 29 million meals, to communities in need nationwide. 

While we’ve impacted millions of families' lives in the U.S. and in Canada, we are only a small piece of the puzzle. Read below for stories of action being taken to combat food insecurity from federal legislation to startup food waste initiatives. 


The Debt Ceiling Deal Has Big Impacts SNAP Benefits

June 4: 
When the ink is finally dry on the debt ceiling deal that held Congress hostage for several weeks, a lot of things will have changed including SNAP benefits. 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has already gone through a major transformation (for the worst) earlier this year when benefits were slashed from COVID levels. For example, a family of four’s support has been cut by $330 per month. 

Now with the new debt ceiling deal, the work age requirement to receive SNAP benefits has increased from 49 to 54. Eligibility will require those without dependents to show they are enrolled in a job training program or working 80 hours per month. 

Previous SNAP eligibility provisions required able-bodied adults who were 18-49 years old without dependents to show they were enrolled in a job training program or worked for at least 80 hours a month in order to receive SNAP assistance.

The work requirements extension will impact about 750,000 people who could lose their eligibility. 

There are also new exceptions as well. Veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and young adults aged 18 to 24 who were previously in foster care are exempt from the new requirements.

Ironically, this new deal is expected to cost the country an additional $2.1 million to fully fund the program.

To read more about how the debt ceiling deal impacts SNAP benefits, click here.  


The Outcome of Ending SNAP’s Temporary Boost

February 27: This past month, the temporary boost for SNAP ended in 32 states. The temporary boost began during the beginning of the pandemic, and many are worried about what will happen now as more than 42 million people across the U.S. participated in October in the program. According to the Agriculture Department of Economic Research Service, food prices, compared to last year, are projected to rise by 4.2% to 10.1% this year.

By eliminating the temporary SNAP boosts, families will have to make the hard choice of what to buy with the small amount of money they are given. Among the barriers people face, removing access to receive help from these programs is one of the main issues that people face when applying for assistance. 

Find out more about SNAP benefits being cut across the United States.

Oklahoma’s Legislation to Conquer Food Insecurity 

February 22: On February 6, Oklahoma began its 59th legislature. There were 3,075 bills requested, however, they discussed two of the most pressing issues which include hunger and poverty in Oklahoma. 

Several bills regarding child nutrition, benefit programs, and taxation were discussed during this legislature. On February 20, HB 1376 was passed unanimously. This bill increases the number of kids who have access to free and reduced lunches during school. In Oklahoma, many of their schools offer students free breakfast and lunch to children with families whose incomes are less than 300% of the Federal Line Poverty Line, an increase from the previous 130%. 

Another significant priority of the 59th legislation is the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is an omnibus bill that provides authorization and funding for food and agricultural programs.  The Farm Bill focuses on reauthorizing SNAP, a food assistance program for families or individuals in low-income households. If passed, this would hopefully expand to provide support to more families, by covering two meals per day for their children, however, the decision of this bill is unknown at this time.

In Oklahoma, over 514,000 adults are food insecure, as well as 183,720 children. To learn more about hunger and how it impacts, visit our blog on hunger facts.

Inflation Increases Grocery Prices and Poverty Threshold in the U.S. 

January 26: Food costs continue to rise in the first few months of 2023, and many people are unable to afford food to live a healthy lifestyle. Butter, cereal, cheese, eggs, and ice cream are only a few items that have risen in price these past few months. In recent years, inflation has affected the middle class heavily, however, economists have noticed a shift. Within the past few years, the burden of inflation is a more severe burden on poorer households.

Poverty is one of the main factors that cause food insecurity. Not being able to afford adequate food and facing malnutrition are two serious concerns of families and individuals all over the U.S. Between January 2022 and January 2023 groceries got 11.3% more expensive, and there’s no end in sight. Grocery products are projected to remain costly, or even rise, throughout these next few months.

Poverty affects children, adults, and even the elderly. When the new poverty levels were released this year, there was a notable increase in the poverty threshold from inflation. For instance, for a family of three, the annual poverty line rose from $23,030 to $24,680 which is a $1,830 increase. 

The poverty line which was created in 1964 by economist Mollie Orshansky, determines which families or individuals can receive certain federal benefits and programs. As of January 19, the average poverty line for a family of four is $30,000 in all states except for Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska’s poverty line for a family of four is 37,500 and Hawaii’s is $34,500.

Read more about how inflation is affecting the daily prices of goods and services.


Food Insecure Families have Higher Healthcare Costs

January 9: Dr. Deepak Palakshappa is an Associate Professor of General Internal Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Through studies and research, he and his team discovered that food insecurity has a negative impact on individual health outcomes

People across the United States have been struggling because of how expensive goods and services costs have risen as well as healthcare costs. During the COVID-19 pandemic people were given temporary relief when food assistance programs such as SNAP, offered a boost in monthly allowance yet that temporary boost in benefits is no longer available. There is a close relationship between food insecurity and a person’s health because food insecurity is linked with a higher chance of illness, disease, depression, and more. 

Dr. Palakshappa and his team conducted a study on 14,666 individuals from 6,621 families. After exploring the relationship between food insecurity and healthcare expenditures, Dr. Palakshappa and his team determined that food-insecure families had 20% greater total health care expenditures than food-secure families, an annual difference of about $2,456. The $2,456 of extra costs makes a big dent in the savings of food insecure families who only bring in on average $27,479 annually.

One of the most important findings was that the type of insurance coverage didn’t matter. Either way, those who were already struggling had to worry about high healthcare costs which confirms that people who struggle with food insecurity, do have a higher chance of illness. 

In North Carolina, over 1.2 million adults struggle with food insecurity, and 394,300 children face hunger. Read more about Dr. Palakshapp’s findings here


Colorado Passes Universal Lunch Bill

November 9, 2022: Colorado voters approved a bill to provide free meals for all public school students.

The measure will help schools pay for the meals by raising $100 million a year by increasing taxes on the state’s richest residents. Those making more than $300,000 a year will see their state tax deductions limited, increasing their taxable income.Colorado voters approved a bill to provide free meals for all public school students.

Read more about the bill here.


Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry in Charlotte, N.C. Partners with Instacart to Reduce Local Food Insecurity

October 24: Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays, an organization with more than 30 pantries in North Carolina and surrounding areas, announces crucial partnership with Instacart to provide more families in need with food. 

Instacart will offer a digital platform so the food pantry’s clients can order the food they want and have it delivered to their homes. "Food-insecure people are a prime market for digital choice and home delivery because they tend to lack mobility, or easy access to transportation, or are juggling multiple jobs that make lining up at specific times for food distributions difficult."

Read more about their partnership here.


Organizations are Partnering Together to Fight Hunger and Climate Change

October 13: "Around the world, a broad array of efforts are being launched to tackle two pressing global problems: hunger and climate change. Food waste, when it rots in a landfill, produces methane gas, which quickly heats up the planet. But it’s a surprisingly tough problem to solve.

Amid the growing urgency to slow global warming, governments and entrepreneurs are coming up with different ways to waste less food. In the United States, one start-up makes it easier for people to buy misshapen produce that grocery stores don’t want, and another has developed an invisible, plant-based coating to make fruits last longer. A Kenyan entrepreneur has built solar-powered refrigerators to help farmers store produce longer.

In Asia, Europe and the United States, several new mobile apps offer discounts on restaurant food that’s about to be thrown out. Last year, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, began a “clean plate” campaign, calling for an end to the “shocking and distressing” squandering of food, even cracking down on video bloggers who eat excessive amounts of food on camera.

All these different efforts point to a disconnect in the modern global food system: A lot of food is produced but not eaten, even as people go hungry." Read more from this article here.


White House holds Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

September 28: Today, President Joe Biden held the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in more than half a century. During this conference, President Biden committed more than $8 billion as part of a call to action to fight hunger across the United States. 

This commitment is part of a plan to end hunger and reduce the incidence of diet-related disease by the end of the decade. The financial commitment will go across the private- and public-sector, ranging from philanthropic contributions and donations to community-based organizations, investments in business, and new ways to integrate and screen for nutrition in healthcare delivery. 

Some of the ways this will manifest in everyday life include: providing community-based organizations to give out $1 million in Doordash Community Credits to allow access for free food delivery, Publix providing over $3 million to Feeding America food banks to establish mobile food pantries they will help stock with 500,000 lbs of produce weekly for the first year, the Community Gyms Coalition will launch a nationwide Fitness is Essential campaign, among many others.


Governor Murphy Signs Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act into Law

September 9: Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed the Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act today, after passing with nearly unanimous support in June. The legislation will expand access to free or reduced meal programs in schools, as well as signing another bill to spread awareness about school meal options.

“[These bills] will help us refocus our fight against food insecurity. They will ensure that our kids are more fully prepared to excel in their studies, so they can excel in their lives. And through it all, they will make life in New Jersey a little bit more affordable for countless working- and middle-class families,” said the governor during the signing in South Amboy.

In New Jersey, more than 650,000 people, including 1 in 11 children, are food insecure. Move For Hunger is working hard to eliminate hunger in New Jersey. Since our inception in 2009, we’ve delivered over 1.5 million lbs - more than 1.25 million meals - of food, with over 56,000 lbs, nearly 47,000 meals, in 2022 alone.


Pennsylvania Announces Hunger-Free Campus Initiative

August 4: First Lady of Pennsylvania, Frances Wolf, made an appearance at Millersville University to announce the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative. The measure will work to provide access to free, healthy food on college campuses across the state to students at risk of hunger. 

With the changing demographics of college students, $1 million was allocated in the 2022-23 state budget to help enhance food pantries at universities, improve data gathering, increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach, and other initiatives

“Hunger is a devastating reality affecting too many of Pennsylvania’s postsecondary students as they strive to further their education, and today I am proud to say that, here in Pennsylvania, we are refusing to accept it. I invite all of Pennsylvania’s institutions of higher education to apply for the Hunger-Free Campus designation and join their dedicated colleagues in ensuring our students have access to the tools they need to succeed, especially nutritious food,” said First Lady Wolf.

In Pennsylvania, more than 1.1 million people are food insecure, with 1 in 7 children facing hunger. Move For Hunger is working hard to eliminate hunger in Pennsylvania. Since our inception in 2009, we’ve delivered over 177,000 lbs - more than 147,500 meals - of food, with over 7,700 lbs, over 6,400 meals, in 2022.


California Offers Food Benefits to Undocumented Immigrants

June 26: California has just passed a new state budget deal that will expand food benefit eligibility to undocumented immigrants 55 years or older who reside in the state. A report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office says this new policy will eventually benefit 75,000 Californians annually who are struggling without this assistance. Previous estimates believe that half of those without legal immigration status in the state face food insecurity.

Betzabel Estudillo, a Nourish California senior advocate, reflected on the crisis facing immigrants without legal status with the L.A. Times, “We’re absolutely grateful , but we know the need is greater, and many more immigrant Californians are in need of food assistance, especially right now.”

In California, more than 3.5 million people are food insecure, with 1 in 8 children facing hunger. Move For Hunger is working hard to eliminate hunger in California. Since our inception in 2009, we’ve delivered over 2 million lbs - more than 1.6 million meals - of food, with over 160,000 lbs, over 130,000 meals, in 2022.

Congress Passes the Keep Kids Fed Act

June 25: President Joe Biden signs the Keep Kids Fed Act, an extension of pandemic-era legislation to help provide meals to kids in school through mid-September. The act provides “important funding and flexibility for communities to provide children healthy meals this summer and provide support to schools and daycare providers.” 

The legislation includes several key elements: free meals for students eligible for reduced-cost meals, extend summer meal program waivers, increase federal reimbursement rates for school lunch by 40 cents and breakfast by 15 cents, among others.

“Our action today staves off a dangerous hunger cliff: ensuring universal free meals for all children throughout this summer, while helping schools keep up supply chain snags and rising costs for the upcoming school year,” said House Speaker Nancy Peolosi.


Senate Passes $5 Billion in Global Food Aid Following Russian Invasion

May 19: Amidst fears of famine from UN reports, the Senate passes $5 billion in global food aid in a larger $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. The funding comes in response to fears of the collapse of the Ukrainian agricultural sector and potential global food supply shortages that could follow. 

Speaking in March 2022, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said that the approval of global food aid was needed to “prevent tens of millions of people, including millions of children, from dying of starvation.” 

The World Food Programme receives almost half of its commodities from Ukraine, with Russia and Ukraine together accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s wheat exports.


Albertsons Announces Commitment to Donate 1 Billion Meals by 2030

April 20: Idaho-based grocer Albertsons announces a broad plan to combat global hunger, with a commitment to donate 1 billion meals by 2030. Additionally, Albertsons plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions through its operations by 2040. Zero food waste going to landfills is also included in its goals, hoping to be reached by 2030

Operating across thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., Albertsons has several thousand retail stores, pharmacies, associated fuel centers, dedicated distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities. This bold commitment to benefit the communities it serves is a step forward towards combating food waste.

In Idaho, more than 150,000 people are food insecure with 1 in 9 children facing hunger. Move For Hunger is working hard to eliminate hunger in Idaho. Since our inception in 2009, we’ve delivered over 28,000 lbs (that’s over 23,000 meals!) of food, with over 700 lbs, nearly 600 meals, in 2022.


Kentucky Passes SB 151 to Expand Access to School-Provided Breakfast

March 29: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signs legislation allowing schools participating in the Federal School Breakfast to “authorize up to 15 minutes of the student attendance day to provide the opportunity for children to eat breakfast during instructional time.” 

Across the state of Kentucky, only 60% of students eligible for free or reduced school meals are receiving breakfast daily - meaning 273,000 eligible kids are not

Kentucky officials hope the bill will provide further access for children who may come to school and haven’t eaten since school-provided lunch the previous day. “I have had kids come to my office and they say things like ‘I’ve got a headache, and my stomach doesn’t feel good, and I can’t concentrate, and I can’t focus,’ and honestly one of the first questions I ask them is ‘Have you eaten breakfast?’ and 99% of the time the answer is no they haven’t,” said Mayfield High School Assistant Principal Stephen Hatchell to WPSD Local 6.

In Kentucky, more than 575,000 people are food insecure with 1 in 6 children facing hunger. Move For Hunger is working hard to eliminate hunger in Kentucky. Since our inception in 2009, we’ve delivered over 55,000 lbs (that’s over 30,500 meals!) of food, with over 3,500 lbs, over 2,900 meals, in 2022.


Flashfood Aims to Combat Retail Food Waste

February 28: Founded in 2016, Flashfood recently raised $12.3 million towards its app that helps customers find great discounts on food nearing its “best-by” date. Originally based in Toronto, Flashfood has grown to include grocery partners across Canada and the United States, such as Loblaw, Stop & Shop, Giant Eagle, and others. The donations will be used to help scale up operations and expand its existing partnerships.

The app was created because of CEO Josh Domingues’ experience talking to his sister, a chef, who called him and told him she had to throw away $4,000 worth of food that night. After discovering this shocking reality of the food and grocery industry, Domingues went to work developing Flashfood, which allows customers to purchase food approaching its best-by date for a discounted price through their virtual marketplace and then pick it up at the Flashfood zone of the participating store. 

Flashfood is now available for use in Kentucky, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island in the United States; Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland in Canada. 


New York State Enacts Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law

January 1: Effective today, New York State - excluding New York City, hospitals, nursing homes, farms, K-12 schools, and adult care facilities - has put a new law into effect to combat edible food waste. Any business that generates more than two tons of wasted food per week annually must donate any excess edible food they have or must recycle food scraps if they’re within 25 miles of an organic recycling center, such as a composting facility or anaerobic digester.  

This legislation was passed in the hope of combatting the statistic of 40% of food produced in the United States going uneaten. New York City is not included in this new legislation because there are already local laws regulating the diversion of edible food there. 

In the state of New York, more than 1.8 million people, including 1 in 7 children, are food insecure. Since our founding in 2009, Move For Hunger has been able to transport nearly 460,300 lbs of food in the state, bringing nearly 383,500 meals to those in need.