Electronic transfers

In our opinion: food insecurity is embarrassing for rich countries

While many of us associate the holidays with an abundance – or glut – of turkey, potatoes, and pumpkin pie, many Americans struggle to put enough food on the table. One in five residents of Clark County has accessed an emergency food web in the past year, according to The Columbian.

It is not unusual. The data shows that these numbers are consistent with national statistics, and it is disturbing to recognize that so many people are hungry in one of the richest countries in the world.

The temptation is to blame some of the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has rocked the economy and resulted in the loss of millions of jobs, at least temporarily. But the US Department of Agriculture reports that food insecurity across the country in 2020 was at the same level as in 2019, before the pandemic.

A strengthening of the social safety net helped prevent wider food insecurity throughout the early days of the pandemic. Congress moved quickly to improve unemployment benefits, provide assistance so struggling businesses can pay workers, and strengthen other security measures.

This year, President Joe Biden signed a law that provides for child tax credit advance payments and pandemic assistance EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfers) that help families feed their children. Analysts say child tax credit payments, which began in July, have helped reduce household food insecurity by a third. In the first two months of the payments, they also lifted 3.5 million children out of poverty, according to a Columbia University study.

All of this contributes to an important discussion about politics. While many Americans might believe government aid leads to addiction, military families are often among those struggling to put food on the table. As The Associated Press reported this month, “Up to 160,000 active duty military personnel are struggling to feed their families.”

AP cited statistics from Feeding America, an organization that helps food banks, and a Feeding America executive said, “This is a shocking truth that is known to many food banks across the United States. This should be the cause of deep embarrassment.

Military personnel volunteer to defend our nation, have secure jobs, and receive health care and other benefits. If they are food insecure, it demonstrates a larger problem that affects millions of Americans.

And that should, indeed, be a cause for embarrassment. As Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. and a veteran herself, said, “How can you focus on achieving the mission and defending our democracy if you’re worried about whether or not your child is having dinner tonight?” “

Locally, the Clark County Food Bank runs a strong organization that distributes £ 8 million of food annually to nonprofits in the area. And the annual Walk & Knock event is considered the largest one-day food drive in the country. This year, the Walk & Knock, which takes place on Saturday, will accept donations of non-perishable food and toiletries at various locations across the county rather than traditional door-to-door collections.

Clark County is fortunate to have generous residents and organizations working to ensure our neighbors have enough to eat. This generosity extends throughout the year, although it usually receives extra attention during the holidays.

But until systemic change takes place in the United States, the need for such largesse will continue to be an embarrassment.