American Children Are Going Hungry in the COVID-19 Pandemic

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ASPartOfMe
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08 May 2020, 4:39 am

Rates of food insecurity among kids have reached “an extent unprecedented in modern times.”

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Young children in the U.S. are currently being crushed by an unprecedented hunger crisis during the coronavirus pandemic. Almost one in five households with kids under 12 reported struggling with food insecurity last month, according to a new study out Wednesday.

Utilizing data from two surveys — the COVID Impact Survey and The Hamilton Project/Future of the Middle Class Initiative Survey of Mothers with Young Children — a fellow at the Brookings Institute found that rates of food insecurity among kids have reached “an extent unprecedented in modern times.”

“This is alarming,” Lauren Bauer, a Brookings fellow in economic studies, told the New York Times. “These are households cutting back on portion sizes, having kids skip meals. The numbers are much higher than I expected.”

The Survey of Mothers with Young Children found that 17.4% of mothers with kids younger than 12 reported their kids weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford food last month. The rate represents a quadrupling from 2018 data, and it’s nearly three times higher than the level of hunger reported among kids during the Great Recession, Bauer said.

Last month, Feeding America warned that 18 million kids could go hungry during the coronavirus pandemic, given the staggering job loss that’s forced families to enter miles-long lines for food banks. The organization noted that the country’s previous high was during the worst of the recession in 2009, when 17.2 million kids went hungry. Approximately 1 in 4 kids could suffer this time around, Feeding America said, especially since many schools — a lifeline for poor kids — are closed to prevent the virus’ spread.

Before the pandemic hit, 37.2 million Americans dealt with food insecurity, including 11.2 million children. Even in normal times, many affected households struggle to feed themselves with government benefits offered through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), colloquially referred to as food stamps. The Brookings Institute suggested Wednesday that the government rapidly expand maximum SNAP benefits by at least 15%. Democrats have called for a similar expansion in recent weeks, though they’ve been unsuccessful in clinching it so far.

“New nationally representative surveys fielded since the pandemic began show that rates of food insecurity overall, among households with children, and among children themselves are higher than they have ever been on record,” Bauer wrote in a post about her research Wednesday. “Food insecurity represents an urgent matter for policymakers in the capitol and in statehouses across the country.”


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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 5:43 am

This is really troubling...especially since farmers have had to euthanize some of their food supply because they can’t sell them.

Something should be done to use this apparent “surplus” to feed these folks.

In NYC, we have “grab and go” in many public schools and other locales available for any hungry person. I haven’t heard of supply problems there.



magz
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08 May 2020, 5:45 am

How come that in a country with 40% obesity rate, children are going hungry?
Distribution of food must be like...
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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 6:12 am

I feel, in this Pandemic, that a little “socialism” and less reliance on market forces and Social Darwinism would go a long way.

We must ensure, though, that this “socialism” doesn’t go too far once the Pandemic is done.



magz
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08 May 2020, 6:20 am

I live in a state where the route was opposite, from socialism to market economy but with many elements of socialism remaining.
Now I think, this option really has its advantages. The society is not that brutally stratified by income. My financial situation fluctuated wildly, my position in the society remained the same.

Don't you have subsided meals at schools? I had them, they were the same meals everyone had, some kids just discreetly payed less or even nothing.


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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 6:27 am

Most cities do. Much of the problem could be in rural areas where people have transportation issues. They can’t get to the food supplies because they need a car to get to them—and they either have no car, or can’t afford gas to fill their tanks.

NYC has “grab-and-go”—where anybody could just walk in (at least in theory) and take as much food as they desire. These locations are usually in closed schools.

I’m not sure if there are long lines, or supply problems. I haven’t heard of them.

The problem could be that some people can’t go out, for various reasons, and go to those schools.



Last edited by kraftiekortie on 08 May 2020, 6:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

magz
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08 May 2020, 6:33 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
The problem could be that some people can’t go out, for various reasons, and go to those schools.

That's true now with Covid.
Food in the US is cheaper than in EU. Maybe markets are empty or unavailable? Just like the thing with toilet paper?


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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 6:37 am

Many meat plants have closed down because of Covid. We’re starting to have meat shortages.

Many farms are having trouble selling their food—whether meat or vegetable.

This was also a problem right before the Great Depression of the 1930s. Farmers can’t sell their products, and they go to waste.



kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 6:46 am

By and large, the supermarkets are well-stocked with most things (so far). But if we don’t get a handle on the situation in the farms and the meat-processing places, there could be real problems.



magz
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08 May 2020, 6:53 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
This was also a problem right before the Great Depression of the 1930s. Farmers can’t sell their products, and they go to waste.

Yes, I'm still having trouble with entirely getting what happened: on one end, farmers can't sell their produce, on the other end, hungry people queueing for bread, and some disruptive black box in-between. Back then and now.
When such things happened here, we knew who the disruptive forces were (the state) and black market food was distributed via aquitances network or on semi-legal bazaars.
It seems such mechanism does not work in the US for some reason.


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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 6:55 am

It’s partially because we are “socialist-phobic.” We are slaves to “market forces.”

Both then and now.

We have to find a way to not let this surplus food go to waste. And if it involves a “little socialism,” so be it. People have to eat, and the food is out there.

We have to guard against the authoritarian tendencies of unrestrained socialism, though.



Last edited by kraftiekortie on 08 May 2020, 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

magz
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08 May 2020, 6:58 am

But market forces work their best on a bazaar!


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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 7:03 am

Right. True.

But here in the US, if prices aren’t high enough, farmers go bankrupt.

We have to get around the market forces in order to distribute the food.

We have to get the food to the people through whatever means.

In communistic places during the 20th century, like you said, the authoritarian state hoarded the food. The best quantity was reserved for the elite. The ultimate “anti-socialism.”



magz
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08 May 2020, 7:11 am

Oh, yes - debt bondage. Farmers have to pay off whatever they have, right?
I think it's a mechanism that actually inhibits the market forces from working the way they are supposed to work - all that basic demand-supply self-regulation gets disturbed by "that much or nothing" mechanism of loans.


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kraftiekortie
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08 May 2020, 7:18 am

Yep. Farms are usually bought via a mortgage. Debt-bondage. Even agribusiness entities.

If only the farms can be granted a special exemption during these special times.



magz
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08 May 2020, 7:20 am

In my opinion, generally, temporary freezing of loans would help dealing with any crisis with less social disruption.


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