Local food insecurity on the rise; President Biden announces White House plan to address hunger
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) – This week, The White House held a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health for the first time in 50 years. The Biden administration said it aims to end hunger and increase physical activity and healthy eating by 2030. Announcing an $8 million dollar investment towards the goal.
According to Feeding America, in Tennessee 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 6 children faces hunger. Dominique Brandt with Chattanooga area food bank said they have seeking out more grants because area need has gotten much higher.
“We’re definitely applying for more grants than we have in the past. That’s really because the need is increased so tremendously. When we look at simply one of our programs, which is our emergency food assistance, so pre pandemic, we were providing 1100 services, in other words, 1100 boxes of food, and then at the height of the pandemic that was looking like 1700,” said Brandt. “Do you want to take a guess as to what August looked like, 3027 boxes of food. It’s really important for our community to realize that in our 20 county service area in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, we have more than 161,000 adults and children that are hungry. That’s every day that they’re hungry. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of relationships and collaboration.”
The White House plans to address hunger by increasing SNAP eligibility and utilizing Medicare to expand nutrition and exercise.
Elaine Streno is the Chief Executive for Second Harvest South East Tennessee. Streno said there’s about 170,000 request for food a month in her organization 18 county service area.
“There’s about 170,000 request for food a month in our 18 county service area,” said Streno. “That doesn’t mean they’re all utilizing Second Harvest, but that gives you an idea of how many live in our service area. According to the US Census. The there are 200,000 that are below the poverty level.
Streno said the changes The White House is making to SNAP is a good start towards their 2030 goal to end hunger.
“The SNAP program, in our opinion, the income level is not as high as it should be. Most definitely since this inflation hit, the average net recipient gets $15 a week for healthy food. That is not enough,” said Streno. “If they’re going to do it, this is what I’ve always said, let’s just restructure it and make it have a powerful impact on the SNAP recipients. In my opinion, and it’s just an opinion, the SNAP program that has been laid out in a way that wasn’t powerful enough to get somebody out of poverty. It was helpful. Do not get me wrong, but it was not powerful enough to take people out of poverty. What second harvest and Feeding America does? we strive to get people out of poverty.”
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank recently received a five thousand dollar donation from Norfolk Southern, providing 15,000 meals to individuals in our area.