Food Insecurity Won’t Disappear After Nov. 3

By Trevi Ray

The response to what Joe Biden has dubbed “the hunger crisis” has fallen along party lines. In fact, this issue reflects one of the most basic divides between Republican and Democratic approaches. Trump prefers to shrink federal assistance and allow states more freedom to distribute aid. He also places a greater emphasis on cost.

Biden, on the other hand, supports large-scale federal aid. His plan is much more expensive but more direct than Trump’s.

Trump’s track record in alleviating food insecurity at the federal level is lackluster. Many of his attempts to shrink the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been unsuccessful.

On Oct. 18, a federal judge blocked Trump’s attempt to downsize the SNAP program by about 17 percent. Now, the goal of shrinking the program is not to remove the support.

The Trump administration has the policy to delegate powers to the states. This has become clear in the COVID-19 response both in masking standards and SNAP. As more and more households are entering into the welfare system due to the economics of the pandemic Trump administration has not expanded the program as a response.

The Department of Agriculture, which handles food insecurity, has instead provided flexibility for states to issue waivers modifying or broadening their programs.

Lola Fandula reports for the New York Times, “Those waivers are modest: One allows school meals to be served outside of crowded settings; another allows meals to be distributed without some education activity. The department has allowed 24 states to receive additional assistance through an electronic transfer of benefits that accounts for the value of free and reduced-price meals that their children no longer receive because of school closures, an average of $114 a month per child.

“And families in 23 states can use benefits from the supplemental nutrition assistance program, known as SNAP, to purchase groceries online. Other waivers have allowed states to issue emergency allotments that increase SNAP benefits to the monthly maximum for all beneficiaries.”

This approach is not without its criticisms. Biden characterizes this approach as a “failure to act.”. He falls on the side of big government spending and federal programs rather than local action. Biden’s plan is contingent on FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act.

This plan is meant to be threefold. The goal is to get meals out to people, but the vehicle will be local restaurants. This way restaurants will continue to earn money and draw on their supply chains disseminating economic stimulus. The government will completely pay for or subsidize the meals through restaurants to be given to hungry individuals.

This is not all of Biden’s plan though. He, according to his campaign website, “If Biden was President today, he would increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.”

Both candidates recognize and are taking action against hunger but each are doing so in a different manner. Whether it’s federal aid, or local vouchers people need to be fed. Election day will dictate how they are fed.