Black, Hispanic households struggling with food insecurity during pandemic

Democrats are hoping that these statistics may sway politicians to support programs to help feed the neediest Americans

Shanika Reaux holds her son O-Neil Lewis, 1, while eating a donated meal of spaghetti near their residence in the Lower Ninth Ward. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A disheartening report claims that nearly four in 10 Black and Hispanic households with children are struggling with food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Non-white families are now twice as likely to be food insecure.

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The report is based on data from the Census Bureau that gathers the figures from weekly surveys. The survey is known as the Household Pulse Survey and it is being closely tracked by economists and social scientists. Many are utilizing the tool to understand racial gaps that have persisted during the pandemic.

The report asks families about their ability to access food during the past seven days.

“This is uncharted territory,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist, and director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University told POLITICO. “We’ve never seen food insecurity rates double, or nearly triple — and the persistent race gaps are just appalling.”

According to the report, food insecurity rates had been dropping before the pandemic. Now, approximately 39% of Black families and 37% of Hispanic families are struggling with food insecurity.

Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center Partner With Food Bank For New York City To Host Mobile Food Pantry For New Yorkers Impacted By COVID-19 Pandemic in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City)

The statistics may sway politicians to support programs to help feed the neediest Americans. Democrats are trying to include a 15% increase in SNAP benefits to the next coronavirus aid package. However, Republicans have pushed back on the idea.

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“I would hope that they would see the need” for another package, Pelosi said of Republicans during her weekly press conference in May. “Yes, I’m concerned about the national debt,” she said, “but I think it would be penny foolish to say, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t do SNAP to give you food because there’s a national debt.'”

This week, one Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York joined with House Democrats to write a letter to the House and Senate supporting a SNAP increase. 

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