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Hunger on the Rise

LUNCHTIME Students line up at a cafeteria in Maryland. Federal funding for free lunch has ended since the pandemic. EDWIN REMSBURG—VW PICS/GETTY IMAGES

Millions of Americans cannot afford to buy enough food. That’s according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It found that the number of households facing food insecurity was 17 million in 2022. The number was around 14 million in 2020.

Experts say there are two causes for the increase. One is a rise in food costs. The other is the end of government programs that help low-income families. These programs were put in place during the pandemic, when people were losing their jobs. Congress has since let many of these programs expire.

“It’s like a horrible storm for families,” says Geri Henchy of the Food Research & Action Center.

One policy that has ended is free lunch for all students. “It was huge for people’s budgets,” Henchy says.

Tom Vilsak is head of the USDA. He has urged Congress to extend government programs. “No child should go hungry in America,” he says.

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