"On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order that would increase both the amount of federal food assistance for about 12 million people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (also known as food stamps), and the grocery money given to families with school-age children. He has also included more money for food stamps and other federal feeding programs in his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package."
-- New York Times
During the pandemic, I've been extremely aware of many pressing food issues: above all, the skyrocketing food insecurity throughout the country and terrible conditions for workers in meat-packing plants. An article in today's New York Times, "How America’s Food System Could Change Under Biden" by Kim Severson discusses the changes that are already beginning to affect these issues.
The terrible abuse of workers in many industrial food processing plants has concerned me so painfully that we have stopped buying red meat. The disastrous toll of the disease on workers in the huge meat-packing plants that supply most of the meat that's sold in supermarkets in the US is shameful. This issue, "protecting Agriculture Department employees and people who process the nation’s food from the virus" tops the list priorities of Tom Vilsack, who appears to be Biden's choice for Agriculture Secretary (but isn't officially designated).
Hunger relief, along with fighting for social justice and addressing climate change, are among Biden's big issues as well. School lunch programs, support for food pantries, distribution of food boxes to needy families, and many such issues have become especially important as the pandemic has greatly increased poverty: "The number of Americans who face hunger rose by some estimates to more than 50 million in 2020, from about 34 million in 2019." Help for farmers, such as equitable farm subsidies and policies, is another big issue, including support for regional agriculture and improvements in policy regarding organic agriculture.
All the challenges require improving the situation of the workers at the Department of Agriculture, which has been politicized and made less effective by intentionally destructive policies in the former administration. Agriculture has "a budget of $153 billion and nearly 100,000 employees," and it "runs 29 agencies and offices whose jobs range from feeding the poorest Americans and regulating what public schoolchildren eat to managing forests and helping farmers sell commodities like soybeans abroad."
Fixing all these problems is a big deal!
For months, I've been worrying about these and other food issues that were made worse by the double impact of terrible government policies and the pandemic. I have new hope!
Blog post © 2021 by mae sander, photo and quotes from article, as attributed.