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Survey: Serious food insecurity amidst rising prices, end of pandemic benefits

Crystal Graham
stressed parent
(© Tomsickova – stock.adobe.com)

A survey of low- and middle-income parents found that 64 percent of respondents said their family is finding it hard to make ends meet right now.

Among their biggest challenges are affording food (64 percent) paying for essential supplies like diapers and formula (60 percent), paying for utilities (57 percent) or housing (41 percent) and lack of paid leave from work (18 percent).

The ParentsTogether Action survey was taken between Feb. 1-9  and included more than 550 parents about the state of financial insecurity amidst rising prices in the U.S., an end to the pandemic-related boost to nutrition benefits and new discussion by Republicans in Congress about cutting additional federal food assistance.

“At a moment when food distribution centers are seeing increases in demand as American families struggle to feed their children, Republican lawmakers are putting families in their political crossfire by threatening to dramatically decrease spending on essential programs like SNAP. The timing of this could not be worse,” said Ailen Arreaza, executive director of ParentsTogether. “Further cuts to essential policies helping families to keep food on the table would be unconscionable – and those politicians responsible will pay a political price.”

Since the pandemic, for nearly three years, households that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have received ‘emergency allotments’ that have provided at least $95 extra per month per household to spend on food. However, the boost in benefits will end in March of this year and millions of families will see a reduction of their monthly SNAP installment.

In addition, this week it was reported that Republicans in Congress are considering new work requirements, or possible outright cuts, to federal food assistance as part of their budget negotiations in the debt limit fight.

Additional highlights of the survey include:

  • 94 percent of parents reported that they were experiencing food price increases.
  • 71 percent of those surveyed say they can no longer save for the future
  • 62 percent say that they have had to spend their savings or other money saved for emergencies.
  • 41 percent said they can simply no longer afford enough food for their families
  • 35 percent have had to work extra hours or get a new job in order to make ends meet
  • 65 percent of respondents said they’ve had to change the food they buy (ie less fruits and vegetables) and/or have had to change the brands of food they buy
  • 52 percent of respondents said they’ve used food banks or similar services
  • 36 percent of respondents said that they’ve skipped meals so their kids can eat

Results of the full survey are available online.

Virginia follows 17 states in ending emergency SNAP allotments post-COVID

SNAP households to continue to receive emergency allotments in January

SNAP benefits going up for U.S. households to keep pace with inflation

‘Ending food insecurity’ in underserved communities funded by VFAIF grants

Hunger awareness: Food insecurity remains hidden in communities

Virginia Cooperative Extension fights food insecurity in the Commonwealth

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.