Thinking Citizen Blog — Food Insecurity: WIC, SNAP, COVID

Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care and Global Health Policy Day

Today’s Topic — Food Insecurity: WIC, SNAP, COVID

What is “food insecurity”? How serious is it? What is the right metric for it? Are poor babies getting enough nutritious food? How big is the gap between what they are getting and what they should be getting? How much worse is it now with Covid? Best article you have read on the subject? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

FOOD INSECURITY — Definition, before COVID after COVID, undergraduates.

1. Official definition (US Department of Agriculture): “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”

2.”In 2018, about 11.1% of American households were food insecure.”

3. “Following the 2020 Covid outbreak, indicators suggested the prevalence of food insecurity for US households has approximately doubled, with an especially sharp rise for households with young children.”

NB: “Surveys have consistently found much higher levels of food insecurity for students, with a 2019 study finding that over 40% of US undergraduate students experienced food insecurity.”

WIC (Women, Infants, and Children): What is it? Who qualifies? How many receive it?

1. A federal assistance program of the Department of Agriculture targeting pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five.

2. The eligibility threshold is 185% of the poverty level.

3. “Currently, WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.” Wow!

NB: The first year of life is absolutely critical: the brain grows by a factor of 2.5 in that one year!!!!

SNAP (formerly “food stamps”: how much? how big is the gap? what is to be done?

1. SNAP benefits supplied roughly 40 million Americans in 2018, at an expenditure of $57.1 billion.”

2. “Approximately 9.2% of American households obtained SNAP benefits at some point during 2017, with approximately 16.7% of all children living in households with SNAP benefits.”

3. Maximum benefits for a family of four: $604 per month, for a family of 8: $1284 per month.

NB: SNAP households may also be eligible for: a.) WIC, b.) free school meals, c.) Pandemic EBT — to reduce regular free or reduced price school meals — $114 per month, d.) CSFP boxes — The Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides boxes of nutritious, USDA-purchased foods to low-income seniors, e.)Food banks: “Food banks often serve as the first line of defense against food insecurity for those in immediate need. USDA provides food and administrative funds to states, who in turn provide support to distributing agencies like food banks, through The Emergency FoodAssistance Program (TEFAP). USDA has provided significant support for food banks throughout the pandemic.”

Food Insecurity | Healthy People 2020


Poverty in the United States

SNAP Benefit Increase Takes Effect | USDA-FNS

USDA Extends WIC COVID-19 Flexibilities for Duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

For the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important.