Welcome to the July Advocacy Landscape blog post. For this month, I will highlight two pieces of legislation and research that caught my attention. These include the introduction of the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act in Congress, and a Purdue University report analyzing generational differences in food security.
The COVID-19 pandemic has enabled a once-in-a-generation policy experiment in the US social safety net. For feeding assistance programs this has taken place through emergency initiatives, including expanded school meal eligibility; Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT); and remote administration of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Last week, members of the House of Representatives Education & Labor Committee introduced a comprehensive reauthorization of these programs, among others, that have bolstered child nutrition (link). Cementing the temporary gains made possible by the initial urgency of the pandemic would demonstrate serious resolve to end hunger for all children in America.
Children are not the only ones at risk, however. The June 2022 Consumer Food Insights Report from Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability breaks out food insecurity in adults by generation (link). In particular, Gen Z respondents experienced the highest rates of food insecurity at 34%–compared to 19% for Millennials, 17% for Gen Xers, and 7% for Boomers+. Some of this spread can be attributed to lower incomes for young adults (link, page 8). It might also suggest that services designed specifically for young adults, such as BFN’s partnership with the UC-Berkeley Basic Needs Center, can deliver particular value during a period of high inflation.
Feeding assistance organizations must press for ongoing and additional resources to manage their “hungriest summer” (link). Anti-hunger advocates are pushing to maintain the gains made during the early pandemic through federal action. At the same time, we must stay aware of current trends and disparities in food insecurity.