As the domestic and global hunger crises worsen, children around the world face great threats to their physical and brain development, mental health and safety. Globally, nearly 8 million are at risk of death from severe malnutrition, and many more are subjected to child marriage and child labor to put food on the table. The latest estimates project that over 9 million children are food insecure in the United States alone.
The Farm Bill will be reauthorized in 2023. With hunger on the rise, we must use this opportunity to strengthen its ability to combat hunger in the U.S. and around the world.
Low-income households in the U.S. are still suffering the effects of pandemic-related economic disruption, especially in rural areas. Today, 20 million American kids rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food – but at current benefit levels, families are still struggling to meet their needs. SNAP benefits don't cover the cost of an average meal in 96% of counties.
We must strengthen and protect SNAP by increasing benefit levels and expanding benefits to cover online delivery fees. We must also maintain recipients' ability to spend credits on whatever food they wish so parents can purchase foods their children will eat.
To prevent future hunger crises, we need to make bigger and better investments in vulnerable communities. When we expand access to farm equipment and agricultural loans, provide education on nutrition and strengthen water and risk management practices, we help protect generations of families. This approach works – in fact, every $1 invested in resilience-building measures saves $3 in humanitarian response.
As an advocate for children, I urge you to strengthen and protect SNAP and support the global Food for Peace programs that build families' resilience in the next Farm Bill.