One in 10 children in Virginia go hungry on a regular basis
Nearly 700,000 Virginia residents lived in food insecure homes from 2018 to 2020, according to a new report from Hunger Free America out this week.
Most sobering from the report: one in 10 children go hungry on a regular basis.
“It’s heartbreaking that because of low wages and inadequate safety net programs in the state, Virginia is in the midst of a hunger crisis, which devastates children, working adults, people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans,” said Joel Berg, Hunger Free America’s CEO.
The report found that increased federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – which was called the Food Stamp Program before 2009 – directly correlated to a sharp decrease in hunger in Virginia between July 2020 and August 2021.
During the pandemic the number of people who “didn’t have enough to eat” in a one-week period soared to 600,000 in July 2020, but dropped to just over 300,000 by August 2021, according to U.S. Census Household Pulse data analyzed by the report.
The 50 percent drop in food insufficiency in Virginia coincided with a boost in federal food and cash aid. From April 2020 to April 2021, federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rose 30 percent, from $130 million to $170 million, monthly.
“The massive, historic increase in federal food and cash benefits significantly softened the blow of the hunger crisis during the pandemic,” Berg said. “While tens of millions nationwide suffered mightily from food hardship during the pandemic – with countless numbers forced to skip meals, reduce portion sizes, and/or buy less nutritious but less expensive food – we did not face an actual famine like in the developing world because the government rapidly and effectively expanded the safety net.
“We are extremely grateful that our federal leaders provided these extra funds and benefits, and that state, county and city workers nationwide toiled under exceedingly difficult circumstances to effectively enable struggling families to access them. However, with over half a million Virginians not having enough to eat in just a one-week period, we clearly have our collective work cut out for us to enact the public policies needed to end hunger and slash the poverty that causes it,” Berg said.