Our food system will collapse without federal assistance

Originally published on The Boston Globe.

In Massachusetts, a worker making minimum wage would need to log 80 hours a week just to afford a two-bedroom apartment, let alone heat, medical bills, and childcare, leaving little to nothing left for food. And minority and under-resourced communities are being hit the hardest. The State of Hunger in Massachusetts, a report issued in July by Children’s HealthWatch, Project Bread, and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, reinforces the role deep inequities in our system have in the disproportionately high rate of food insecurity experienced in Latinx communities, even as it also reveals a strong community with powerful neighborhood bonds. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed report living in food-insecure households prior to the pandemic. The report illustrates the urgent need to build an equitable and systemic response to food insecurity immediately and for the long term.

Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with the food and resources to ensure no one goes hungry. We can ensure none of our neighbors go hungry, but we need a political approach. It will require citizens coming together to tell legislators that everyone deserves the right and resources to purchase food.

We call on our US senators to keep the pressure on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to support an increase for SNAP. We call on our members of Congress to be unrelenting in their support of expanding SNAP. We call on Governor Charlie Baker and the Legislature to prioritize funding not only to support but also expand efforts to connect families to SNAP and other federal nutrition programs, like WIC and school meals, in the face of what is likely to be the most difficult state budget process in our lifetimes.