MAZON Points to Effectiveness of Safety Net Following Federal Poverty and Hunger Figures

September 14, 2021

Today, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau was released, supplementing last week’s report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) about the state of poverty and hunger in 2020. Together, these reports provide the strongest evidence yet that federal programs designed to curb hunger and poverty work effectively when sufficiently funded. Expanding food programs like SNAP, along with other federal initiatives like the Child Tax Credit, staved off the worst effects of the pandemic and saved millions of families from severe hunger.

National anti-poverty and anti-hunger experts and advocates, including MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, noted the undeniable effectiveness of these programs. Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President and CEO, said:

“Every American should have reliable, affordable access to regular healthy meals. The fact that more than 10 percent of this country still faces food insecurity is a national disgrace, and it underscores the urgent need for legislative action to ensure that all Americans in need can feed themselves and their families. We know how to support those who face hunger and poverty — now we must demand that our leaders find the political will to advance lasting policy solutions to reverse the course of hunger in this country. The evidence is clear: federal assistance programs like SNAP, WIC, Pandemic-EBT, and the Child Tax Credit were crucial in preventing a more severe hunger crisis.

We must acknowledge and reckon with the stark reality that hunger, like many other forms of inequity, is exacerbated by systemic racism. Recent data from USDA and the Census Bureau clearly show that Black and other communities of color experience food insecurity at a disproportionate and growing rate, and they are at great risk of continued inaction by policymakers. We know that communities of color, including Indigenous people, are often overlooked by lawmakers, and by the media — too often, coverage focuses on how charity programs temporarily keep hunger at bay, while overlooking the need to strengthen safety net programs and address the systemic issues that create and perpetuate inequity.

These revelations are particularly poignant during the Jewish High Holy Days — a time when we pause and reflect on our relationships: to the land, to our freedoms, and to each other. In the wake of the pandemic and its sweeping consequences, grappling with these questions could not be timelier.”