Inflation, federal funding reductions eat away at efforts to help the hungry

Hunger is on the rise in America due to a combination of inflation and cuts to federal aid programs, and Maryland is no exception, the nonprofit Hunger Free America said.

Joel Berg, the CEO of Hunger Free America, told WTOP that their analysis of federal data over a one-week period this year found the number of Maryland residents experiencing food insecurity jumped by 56% over the same time last year.

Berg defined “food insecurity” as “people who are rationing food, skipping meals; it’s parents going without meals to feed their children; it’s people buying less healthy food.”

“Unfortunately, hunger’s an issue in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, every territory of the United States,” he added.

Along with inflation, Hunger Free America’s study cited cuts to pandemic funding and the expiration of measures, such as the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, as causes.

The organization’s survey of food pantries and soup kitchens showed that 73% of respondents served more people this year than last. Hunger Free America’s study also showed that, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, 9% of Marylanders — more than 541,000 residents — lived in food-insecure households between 2019 and 2021.

“The solution is for the elected officials to enact better policies,” especially at the federal level, Berg said.

“Hunger in any nation on the planet is unacceptable,” Berg said. “But to have hunger in Maryland, with such incredible pockets of wealth like Potomac — to have hunger in the District of Columbia just inches from the White House and the Capitol Building — should be extra appalling.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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