Biden’s Got a Plan to End Hunger in the US. What’s He Cooking Up?

Biden’s Got a Plan to End Hunger in the US. What’s He Cooking Up?

<p>It is a never-ending source of confusion, moral outrage, and debate, but despite being citizens of the wealthiest country in the world, millions of Americans live with hunger. It remains a sharp reminder of the systemic inequalities ingrained in this country that still need to be addressed.</p> <p>The Biden administration has recognized this reality and has committed to ending hunger in the US by 2030. To this end, $1.7 billion has been assigned, with billions more committed through partnerships. If successful, the project could have a revolutionary effect on the health and wellbeing of the nation.</p> <h2>The state of hunger in the US</h2> <p>According to the US Department of Agriculture, roughly 10.5% of households were “food insecure” (an academic term describing a lack of reliable access to nutritious food) in 2020. That translates to around 35 million Americans, including some 10 million kids.</p> <p>COVID has only made matters worse in the time since, and millions more have joined the bread line. The pandemic amplified existing issues and caused lasting economic chaos, further impacting families’ abilities to feed themselves properly. Nearly 4% of American households experienced very low food security in 2021, meaning they were skipping meals or limiting consumption because they couldn’t afford more.</p> <figure><img alt="" height="628" src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/pqD9DxhPAa/original.jpg" width="419" /> <figcaption>Pallets of USDA Emergency Food Assistance Program <em>Source: USDA Photo by Lance Cheung - USDAgov</em></figcaption> </figure> <h3>Demographic disparities </h3> <p>Hunger doesn’t discriminate, but society does. Food insecurity disproportionately affects certain demographic groups, including Black and Hispanic households, poorer families, single-parent households, and households with children. </p> <p>A toxic blend of socioeconomic factors, structural inequalities, and systemic racism is what empowers these disparities, and these groups pay the biggest price in health outcomes.</p> <h3>Rural versus urban disparities</h3> <p>Distinct challenges with hunger exist in urban and rural settings. In the countryside, limited access to grocery stores, transportation barriers, and economic downturns in the agricultural sector worsen food insecurity. In cities, high housing costs, low wages, and “food deserts” (areas with poor access to affordable nutritious food) are among the biggest drivers of hunger.</p> <h2>The impact of hunger on health and wellbeing</h2> <h3>Nutritional deficiencies</h3> <p>The most direct consequence of going without food is the lack of adequate nutrition. Putting something in your belly isn’t enough; the quality and properties of that food are critical to your health as your body has diverse needs in vitamins, minerals, and so on. You can’t survive on bread alone, in other words.</p> <h3>Chronic diseases</h3> <p>Food insecurity is closely tied to the development and worsening of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. It might seem contradictory that obesity is connected, but think about what’s available to someone living on pennies: they often have to resort to cheap, high-calorie foods that are trash in nutritional terms but allow them to live another day. </p> <p>Over time, weight gain and damage to your system are on the cards. Diet-related diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability in the US.</p> <h3>Mental health</h3> <p>Hunger is sure to drive anyone mad. The stress of not knowing where your next meal is coming from is a fast track to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. </p> <h3>The effect on children can be lifelong</h3> <p>Children suffering from hunger will in turn struggle with school and friends, affecting their development and wellbeing. Poor nutrition can result in weakened immune systems, stunted growth, and developmental delays. This can have lifelong consequences for their physical and cognitive development.</p> <h3>Immune system function</h3> <p>Without proper, diverse nutrition, your body cannot arm itself to defend against disease. Chronic hunger is a weak point that helps infections and illnesses to invade and wreak havoc on your body. That leaves you more susceptible to diseases ranging from the common cold to much more serious infections.</p> <h3>Hunger during pregnancy</h3> <p>Pregnant women and their babies are especially vulnerable to hunger. Maternal malnutrition can trigger complications both during pregnancy and childbirth, including poor birth outcomes like low birth weight or preterm delivery. </p> <figure><img alt="" height="301" src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/aARWKVhvoz/original.jpg" width="534" /> <figcaption>Pregnancy and Nutrition <em>Source: TheVisualMD</em></figcaption> </figure> <h3>Healthcare costs</h3> <p>Direct effects on people’s health aside, the economic cost of hunger is immense, both for governments and for individuals. If you suffer from hunger, you’re more likely to need medical treatment for diet-related illnesses, causing higher healthcare expenditures for both you and the system.</p> <h2>The Biden administration’s response to hunger in the US</h2> <p>The bold move by the Biden administration to end this issue involves a multifaceted approach covering policy reforms, community engagement, and innovation.</p> <p>The project features over 140 pledges by healthcare systems, nonprofits, insurance companies, philanthropic organizations, local governments, and more who are contributing to the president’s challenge to end hunger.</p> <h3>Expansion of assistance programs</h3> <p>A key initiative is the expansion of federal nutrition assistance programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). </p> <p>These programs already provide a lifeline to low-income families by ensuring access to nutritious food and diminishing the burden of hunger, and the Biden administration plans to boost their reach and effectiveness, which could potentially lift millions out of food insecurity.</p> <h3>Ripping out the roots</h3> <p>Part of the pledge is aimed at tackling income inequality, inadequate wages, and systemic racism. The administration’s policies are set to increase the federal minimum wage, expand access to housing, and invest in education and job training.</p> <h3>Grassroots support</h3> <p>Fostering partnerships with community-based organizations and local governments will allow us to combat hunger at the grassroots level. Partnerships with these groups are needed to address the specific needs of vulnerable populations in a given area.</p> <h3>Innovation and tech</h3> <p>With such a massive project, you need sophisticated data analytics to implement it correctly and make sure it’s working properly. There are specific initiatives set out to identify food deserts, promote urban agriculture and community gardens, and develop mobile food distribution systems.</p> <h3>Healthy (and free!) school meals for all</h3> <p>School meals provide food for some 30 million children every day across the US, making schools a focal point of their nutritional health. Part of Biden’s plan is to integrate a “healthy meals for all approach” that would reorient school meal programs to be supported by ancillary services and local food systems. </p> <p>This would enable schools to cook meals from scratch and expand nutrition for kids. In the administration’s published plan, their shift is the “first major step” in expanding access to healthy, free school meals for some 9 million kids by 2032.</p> <h2>More on Nutritional Deficiencies</h2><ul><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/vwd77qou4w-malnutrition" target="_blank">Malnutrition: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment</a></li><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/vwd77l7h4w-nutrition-basics" target="_blank">A Guide to the Essential Nutrients</a></li><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/5mryx8nszj-health-disparities" target="_blank">Reducing Health Disparities to Promote Health Equity</a></li></ul>

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