Media Coverage

May 7, 2022

'I worry about what happens next year:' Federal waivers that decreased childhood hunger end soon

When schools shut down in March 2020, nutrition programs stepped up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted seemingly endless waivers for schools to keep students fed — allowing them to feed every child, regardless of the family’s income, and take food off-site, as congregate settings weren’t safe with a largely unknown virus moving through the country.

And in the weeks and months that followed, childhood hunger decreased.

Data released last month from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey showed roughly 20 percent of at-risk households with children reported food insecurity in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as those nutrition programs expanded, that number decreased by about 7 percent by last summer.

Eleni Towns, associate director of the No Kid Hungry campaign, said community and school food programs were able to transform to meet the needs brought on by the pandemic.

Apr 6, 2022

Pandemic Policies Took a Bite Out of Child Hunger

Federal pandemic waivers took a bite out of child hunger, according to census data, and there are concerns those trends could be reversed when the waivers expire in June.

The policies improved access to school meals through universal free lunch, additional emergency funds for EBT cards, and by giving districts the flexibility to feed kids through mobile delivery and backpack programs.

Katherine Unger, a policy associate with the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio, said more meals were provided to more families during a time of significant need.

"The end of these waivers, in combination with the end of other supports that have helped families meet their basic needs, is just going to put more strain on Ohio families' budgets," she said, "and this comes especially at a time when we are met with rising food costs, rising gas prices."

Census data found that food insecurity among financially insecure households with kids dropped 33% between April 2020 and July 2021. A new bipartisan Senate bill would extend the waivers for another year, after lawmakers didn't do so in the most recent federal spending bill.

Congress also failed to extend advance Child Tax Credit payments after December, which Kimberly LoVano, director of advocacy and public education with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, said helped families put food on the table.

"The Child Tax Credit was not designed to be a nutrition program, but that is simply what it became," she said ."About 60% of lower-income families used the benefit to purchase groceries, and more than 90% of families used the benefit to pay for things like utilities, rent, clothing, education."

Demand hasn't slowed at food banks and pantries in Ohio and is expected to pick up as inflation rises. LoVano said they're not receiving the federal support needed in the wake of increased costs and supply-chain issues. She called it a perfect storm.

Mar 15, 2022

State, congressional response urgent to prevent household insecurity from worsening

We cannot keep up at this rate, especially with pandemic-related supports for families ended or soon to end. To survive, we need more support from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to put wholesome, staple foods on our shelves.

We also need Ohio’s leaders to recognize that our hunger relief network is so much more than somewhere people turn to in emergencies. For schools, health clinics and community colleges, we make sure students and patients can get the nutritious food they need to learn and thrive. For working parents struggling to afford childcare and rent, we provide support, promote access to federal nutrition programs and fill gaps. For many older adults and people living with disabilities on fixed incomes, we are a first-line grocery store.

Mar 5, 2022

Ohio food banks urge lawmakers to take action amid 'impossible scenario' for many families

Food banks are keeping up by purchasing more food with privately raised dollars than we ever have, but it’s not sustainable for us to keep up at this rate. We need more support from the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to put wholesome staple foods on the shelves. We join Feeding America and our peers across the country in urging Congress to include an additional $900 million in TEFAP in the upcoming spending package. TEFAP commodities made up about a quarter of all the food distributed by our network last year, and even more in rural areas of the state and nation.

Additionally, we need our state leaders to recognize that the Ohio hunger relief network is much more than somewhere people turn to in emergencies. Ohio food banks operate workforce development programs, prepare meals for kids during out-of-school time, deliver groceries to vulnerable households, supply personal care and personal hygiene items, provide nutrition education, connect clients to health care, foster cross-sector collaboration and so much more.

Mar 4, 2022

With inflation, supply-chain kinks, plight of Ohio food banks grows

The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey estimated that about a month after the credit expired, 339,000 Ohio families with children sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the past seven days.

Compare that to the period from Sept. 15-27 when the credit was in full force. Then an estimated 264,000 Ohio families with children sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat, the survey said.

If those estimates are accurate, that means food insecurity for families with children has leapt 28% since the expiration of the child tax credit.

Mar 3, 2022

Temporary Spending Bill Helping Struggling Ohioans Ends in March; Groups Want Real Funding

Out of nearly 200 federal programs tracked by the Coalition on Human Needs between fiscal years 2010 and 2021, nearly two-thirds have not kept pace with inflation. Without an updated omnibus spending bill, said Joree Novotny, director of external affairs for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, there isn't enough assistance to meet the need. For example, she explained, monthly WIC benefits for fresh produce for children would decrease from $24 to $9.

"People struggling with food insecurity are really uncertain about what the future looks like," she said, "and we want public policy that provides them with more certainty, more dignity, so that they'll be able to meet the needs of themselves and their kids."