In 2023, with the support of our nationwide network of anti-hunger advocates and funders, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) has made headway in advancing our Strategic Plan to end hunger in America.

FRAC continues to advocate for benefits adequacy and equitable access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As the year came to a close and a government shutdown loomed, placing already struggling families and households around the country in jeopardy of losing benefits, FRAC mobilized its network to ratchet up its appeals to Congress, sending a powerful and direct message to the government about the importance of SNAP and the plight of the millions who would be affected by funding gaps or benefit disruptions.

Parents, teachers, students, school nutrition staff, and policymakers around the country have joined FRAC in raising their hand in support of free school meals for all students, regardless of household income. As a result, states are increasingly making Healthy School Meals for All permanent. FRAC will continue to lead on this issue to ensure that children have the food they need to learn and thrive, and keep the momentum going state by state and in Congress for permanent legislation, such as the Universal School Meal Program Act of 2023, until Healthy School Meals for All is a reality nationwide.

In September, FRAC and over 600 national, state, and local organizations signed a letter in a unified plea to Congress to immediately pass a continuing resolution that would avert a government shutdown and protect funding for federal nutrition programs, especially the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), to guarantee the program could continue providing all who are eligible with the nutrition they need without interruption. FRAC urged Congress to include additional funding in any short- and long-term fiscal year 2024 spending bills so that eligible families have uninterrupted access to WIC’s significant nutrition and health benefits.

In early 2023, subgrantees of the WIC CIAO Project, funded by a $44 million grant to FRAC from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, began their work to help increase WIC participation.

Addressing the complex and interdependent root causes of hunger is integral to FRAC’s vision to build a nation free from hunger. For example, this year, FRAC compiled research, including new state-level data, on the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit’s (CTC) impact on households with children, including on hunger, food spending, and poverty, and provided recommendations for advocacy in support of a permanent expanded and inclusive CTC. FRAC continues to urge Congress to reinstate the expanded Child Tax Credit, which helped millions of families put food on the table and drastically reduced hunger and poverty.

In February, FRAC was awarded a $2 million grant from the USDA for a project focused on equity in child nutrition programs, to conduct and support research on expanding equitable access to the federally funded child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The Equitable Access in Child Nutrition Programs Project research will identify barriers and solutions to increase equitable access to these critical nutrition programs, advancing participation and other expansion efforts.

In October, FRAC launched the New Jersey Food Security Initiative, funded by a $4.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The initiative is dedicated to addressing food insecurity and health inequities in New Jersey by uplifting existing initiatives and collaborations across the state — providing additional funding opportunities, capacity-building, resources, and technical assistance.


Based on our 50-year track record of advancing policy solutions to end poverty-related hunger in the U.S., and listening to and working with our network of advocates and partners, state and local agencies, and those with lived experience, FRAC released a Strategic Plan that identifies five bold steps to a nation free from hunger. We made significant progress in 2022 toward our goal to end hunger.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a critical early intervention in preventing hunger — improving participants’ health, dietary intake, and birth and health outcomes with nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals for nutritionally at-risk infants, children up to 5 years old, and pregnant and postpartum individuals from households with low incomes. FRAC received a $20 million-dollar WIC grant in October from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Through the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project, FRAC will partner with UnidosUS, the Native American Agriculture Fund, and the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition to support community-based organizations, WIC state and local agencies, and other nonprofits in developing and implementing outreach strategies to increase WIC participation and retention.

School meals fuel student health and learning. Although the USDA waiver authority offering free meals to all students at the beginning of the pandemic expired in June, support and momentum continue to build for free school meals for all around the country, with the Biden administration including Healthy School Meals for All in its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. FRAC created a one-stop-shop microsite with the latest news and resources on health school meals, and we continue to encourage others to join us in raising their hands in support of Healthy School Meals for All.

Through our “Strengthen SNAP Agenda”, FRAC has worked steadfastly to bolster the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during COVID-19 and beyond. FRAC’s SNAP agenda would raise SNAP benefits overall, improve SNAP benefit adequacy and equitable program access for those in need, including college students, the unemployed and underemployed, and immigrants, and eliminate the “cap” on the SNAP shelter deduction, which currently exacerbates challenges families with children face in paying for both food and housing. Key legislative proposals have growing numbers of congressional cosponsors; opinion research also shows public support for many agenda items. And our new SNAP Feeds Our Community campaign aims to build public awareness of SNAP’s positive impacts in the Southern states in the near and longer terms.

Addressing the root causes of hunger — the economic and social factors that fuel hunger such as poverty; lack of adequate wages, health care, housing, and child care; and racial inequities — is critical to ending hunger. FRAC partnered with coalitions and organizations addressing root cause issues, and mobilized anti-hunger partners to bring the sector’s unique and powerful perspective to efforts such as advocating for the reinstatement of the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit(CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). These expansions made a profound difference for millions of families and reduced hunger among households with children by 19 percent. FRAC garnered more than 550 signatories from organizations working to end hunger on a letter urging Congress to reinstate the expanded CTC and EITC in any end of the year tax package.

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health served as a major platform to amplify the issue of hunger in the U.S. FRAC worked with the White House to ensure people with lived experience participated in regional listening sessions hosted by the White House, and we featured their stories in a special blog series. Some of FRAC’s key recommendations to the Biden administration, including advancing free school meals for all, modernizing and expanding the Summer EBT program, and providing access to SNAP for the formerly incarcerated and for college students, were reflected in the national strategy released at the conference. The administration’s strategy also aligned with FRAC’s priorities beyond the federal nutrition programs to address root causes of hunger.

Following the 2020 elections, FRAC played a key role in developing and executing a detailed work plan to prepare for the Biden-Harris administration and continued fighting for key FRAC priorities in the Biden-Harris American Rescue Plan. FRAC also prepared policy documents to orient all new Members of Congress on its key goals. 

Ending hunger in America continues to have bipartisan support, which is central to our long-term support strategy for the federal nutrition programs. Since its inception more than 50 years ago, FRAC has worked across the aisle in Congress to pass legislation that would improve access to nutrition programs for low-income individuals and families. From its beginnings in 1970, working with Sens. George McGovern (D-SD) and Bob Dole (R-KS), to 2021, working with Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Boozman (R-AR), FRAC has tailored its lobbying efforts in a bipartisan fashion. 

In February, FRAC concluded a new strategic planning process that provided greater focus in five areas: strengthen the federal nutrition programs to ensure they provide sufficient and dignified access to nutrition to low-income individuals in the U.S.; guarantee that program implementation at the federal, state, and local level maximizes available benefits; support policies and programs that reduce poverty and other root causes of hunger; reduce the racial hunger gap by embedding equity in the federal nutrition programs; and build a national commitment in support of just and effective anti-hunger policies. The plan was informed by inputs from advocacy targets, the board, staff, and the national network of advocates, partners, and donors.

FRAC turned 50! 

In January, Jim Weill stepped down as FRAC’s president after 21 years at its helm. In the same month, FRAC welcomed its new president, Luis Guardia. 

At the earliest indications of the breadth and enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, FRAC staff immediately engaged with Congressional leaders and Trump administration officials to provide technical assistance and policy recommendations for a swift and comprehensive response. Many of the priorities FRAC recommended were included in relief packages, including boosts to SNAP, the creation of a Pandemic EBT program, the expansion of USDA’s child nutrition waiver authority, and measures to ensure that programs — like SNAP, school meals, and WIC — are able to respond as needed and to reach households during the crisis. 

As part of its 50th anniversary commemorations, FRAC sponsored a Washington Post Live event that highlighted the impact of COVID-19 with the release of Not Enough to Eat: COVID-19 Deepens America’s Hunger Crisis and a discussion on how to address the short- and long-term fallout of the pandemic, including expanding the reach of the federal nutrition programs. 

At the end of 2020, FRAC was named as one of several recipients of Mackenzie Scott’s philanthropy and was awarded a generous multiyear grant to support its work. 

The year started with a federal government shutdown, which threatened millions of Americans’ access to the federal nutrition programs, so FRAC took numerous steps, such as releasing official statements and creating a toolkit, to advocate for ending the shutdown so that struggling households could access the federal nutrition programs. Alarmed by the proposed public charge rule, FRAC coordinated with its national network of partners, including Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF), to reject the proposed rule by providing a platform for partners and other advocates to submit comments. During this time, FRAC began serving as the nutrition lead on the steering committee for the PIF Campaign, which leads efforts against attacks on the nation’s health and well-being. All year long SNAP was constantly being challenged, so FRAC held firm on protecting SNAP from, for example, two proposed rule changes: Categorical Eligibility and the Standard Utility Allowance. FRAC again created comment platforms, replete with templates and other resources, for each. Child nutrition was also in the spotlight with the Child Nutrition Reauthorization due. FRAC authored numerous resources and partnered with other organizations to promote several proposed child nutrition bills and to reiterate why a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill is important for helping end childhood hunger.

FRAC’s ongoing advocacy efforts to protect and strengthen SNAP helped ensure that the 2018 Farm Bill, which passed in December, rejected harmful provisions that would have weakened this program. FRAC also strongly opposed a proposed public charge rule that would make it harder for immigrant families to access a range of nutrition, health, and human services programs. Under the proposed rule, SNAP is included as a public benefit that could trigger a public charge determination.

FRAC launches interactive data tools illustrating state and congressional district poverty rates and household SNAP participation rates (including county level data), enabling policymakers and advocates to better pinpoint the extent of poverty in their communities and to understand the important extent to which the federal nutrition programs are vital in the struggle against hunger and poverty in the U.S. The maps also show that SNAP matters in every community across the country, regardless of size or demographics, and especially in rural communities.

FRAC releases first-ever report analyzing breakfast participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs, showing that only 1.7 million low-income children received summer breakfast on an average weekday in July 2015 — barely half as many who ate summer lunch. The report sets an ambitious, but achievable, goal of reaching 70 children with summer breakfast through the Summer Nutrition Programs for every 100 participating in summer lunch.

FRAC reports that the latest research shows school meals improve food security, dietary intake, and weight outcomes.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and End Hunger Connecticut! received honors at FRAC’s 26th Annual Benefit Dinner.

FRAC supports new USDA rules for healthier meals and snacks in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, an important step in addressing the nutritional shortfalls in our nation’s children’s diets and helping to tackle the nation’s obesity problem.

FRAC releases “A Plan of Action to End Hunger in America” featuring “Eight Essential Strategies to Ending Hunger,” including create jobs, raise wages, increase opportunity, and share prosperity; improve government income-support programs for struggling families; strengthen SNAP and Child Nutrition Programs; and build political will.

The Food & Agriculture Policy Collaborative, of which FRAC is a member, releases guide to Building Healthy Communities.

FRAC reports on the extent and causes of participation shifts in the National School Lunch Program.

FRAC’s Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, its annual look at participation in summer meals, shows the first major increase in Summer Nutrition Program participation since 2008. The 2014 report shows a five-percent increase, largely due to concerted efforts by FRAC, USDA, and other national organizations to improve participation in this program.

FRAC leads the anti-hunger and anti-poverty communities in fighting back against Farm Bill proposals to weaken SNAP and in promoting implementation options that enhance program benefits and positive impacts.

New polling data from FRAC show deep support for ending hunger and strong opposition to cutting food assistance programs, including SNAP. Support for SNAP and efforts to end hunger cut across party lines.

FRAC spearheads the implementation of community eligibility in the first round of pilot states. Community eligibility, included in the 2010 child nutrition bill, will allow high-poverty school districts to serve free school meals to students. FRAC also supports the expansion of the Afterschool Meal Programs to every state. Both programs are the results of long-term advocacy by FRAC.

FRAC releases its first “food hardship” study, which looks at a household’s ability to afford enough food, and contains data for not just the nation but also for every congressional district. This unprecedented study finds that nearly one household in six says they struggled to afford enough food.

FRAC leads efforts to broaden low-income children’s access to healthy school lunch and breakfast, summer and afterschool meals, and child care food in the child nutrition reauthorization process.

FRAC launches FRAC Focus: Obesity and Poverty, a unique e-periodical highlighting issues at the intersection of hunger, poverty, and obesity in America.

FRAC marks its 40-year anniversary at the annual benefit dinner.

FRAC and allies obtain substantial improvements in refundable child tax credit rules that provide billions of dollars in help to low-income working families with children.

FRAC launches anti-recession website www.realstimulus.org and leads effort that obtains $20 billion in food stamp improvements in economic recovery act.

FRAC, state officials, elderly advocates, and other anti-hunger allies secure more than $10 billion in 10-year added funding in the 2008 Farm Bill for food stamps (now renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), including the first boost in the program’s minimum benefit in more than 30 years.

Congress enacts FRAC’s initiative to reform the summer food program nationwide, cutting red tape and increasing reimbursements to reach more children.

FRAC opens second state office, Maryland Hunger Solutions, to combat hunger and improve nutrition in the state.

FRAC and D.C. Hunger Solutions, along with Share Our Strength, launch ambitious Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in the Nation’s Capital.

FRAC issues School Wellness Policy and Practice: Meeting the Needs of Low-Income Students to focus benefits of the new federal wellness policy mandate on those most in need.

FRAC and allies successfully stop deep budget cuts in food stamps and other nutrition programs supporting low-income people.

FRAC leads efforts at the state and local level to implement important 2004 child nutrition and 2002 food stamp reauthorization gains.

FRAC, the Child Nutrition Forum, and allies obtain a child nutrition reauthorization law that strengthens school breakfast and lunch, summer food, child care food, and WIC programs.

FRAC launches D.C. Hunger Solutions to combat hunger and improve nutrition in the District of Columbia.

FRAC launches Weekly News Digest which becomes the basic news source for thousands of advocates and stakeholders around the country on developments in anti-hunger, anti-poverty, and related areas.

FRAC and anti-hunger and immigrant allies obtain further restoration of benefits for hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants, significantly improved access to benefits for working families, and other important improvements in the Food Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2002.

FRAC helps lead anti-poverty and anti-hunger groups in obtaining tens of billions of dollars in refundable tax credits for low-income working families with children in federal tax legislation.

FRAC leads campaign securing passage of provisions of the Hunger Relief Act to make the Food Stamp Program more responsive to working families and other hungry Americans, and secures legislation strengthening the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s nutrition benefits in family child care and afterschool programs.

FRAC obtains federal, state, and local administrative initiatives in food stamps to reverse the caseload decline among eligible people and make the program accessible to low-income working families.

FRAC joins other anti-hunger and immigrant groups in leading the successful drive to reverse a 1996 law and restore food stamp benefits to one-quarter of a million immigrant children, seniors, and refugees.

FRAC spearheads efforts that improve and expand afterschool food, school breakfast, and other programs in the 1998 child nutrition reauthorization legislation.

FRAC and national anti-hunger partners lead Hunger Has A Cure campaign, key pieces of which are included in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.

USDA and the Census Bureau release the first-ever government study of the number of hungry Americans, using methodology adapted from FRAC’s Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project surveys.

FRAC provides key leadership in the successful struggle to preserve the entitlement status of federal nutrition programs under assault in Congress.

FRAC organizes a national coalition, Save Our Nation’s Nutrition Programs, endorsed by 500 organizations across the country.

FRAC rallies support for important Food Stamp Program improvements in the Mickey Leland Childhood Hunger Relief Act, the most significant anti-hunger legislation since 1977.

Release of FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard brings nationwide attention to the fact that only one-third of the low-income children receiving school lunch also get school breakfast. The report’s release contributes to passage of state mandates requiring schools with a high proportion of low-income students to serve breakfast.

FRAC launches the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.

FRAC releases the most comprehensive nationwide study of childhood hunger ever conducted — the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project —which estimates that 1 in 8 children under the age of 12 in this country is hungry.

FRAC marks 20 years of fighting hunger with its first annual dinner – honoring House Speaker Thomas Foley and Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole. Both express their commitment to ending domestic hunger and pay tribute to FRAC’s contributions to this cause.

FRAC releases Feeding the Other Half, documenting the serious consequences of inadequate nutrition for low-income women, infants, and children eligible for, but not served by, WIC. The report is instrumental in gaining a significant funding boost for WIC.

FRAC’s research and lobbying are central to the enactment of the Child Nutrition Amendments of 1989, which expand the availability of meals for low-income children in the summer and provide incentives for school breakfast expansion.

FRAC’s Fuel for Excellence, a guide to the School Breakfast Program, is the launching pad for a multi-year National School Breakfast Expansion Campaign with 70 national partners.

FRAC issues The Widening Gap — a report documenting the increasing disparity between black and white infant death rates in the United States. It focuses public attention on the relationship between infant mortality and poor nutrition among low-income mothers.

FRAC’s policy analysis, testimony, and leadership of the nationwide anti-hunger network play a key role in blunting the effect of proposals for massive cutbacks in nutrition programs.

FRAC leads the way in publicizing a proposed USDA school lunch regulation that would reduce portion sizes and allow ketchup and pickle relish to be counted toward meeting vegetable requirements. “Ketchup as a vegetable” becomes a national issue, and FRAC coordinates a successful campaign to have the regulation withdrawn.

Research and policy recommendations by FRAC play a key role in passage of the Child Nutrition Amendments of 1978, which greatly expand the WIC and School Breakfast Programs.

FRAC’s research and field network play a crucial role in the adoption of the landmark Food Stamp Act of 1977, which improves access to the program for millions.

FRAC wins a court order to release $35 million in funds impounded from the Elderly Feeding Program. The released funds are used to increase the number of people served.

Litigation by FRAC leads to the release of funds impounded from the WIC program. This victory launches rapid growth in the program and WIC’s eventual nationwide reach.

FRAC wins two lawsuits in the United States Supreme Court that prevent exclusion of thousands of participants from the Food Stamp Program.

FRAC is founded in New York City. FRAC pursues lawsuits in 26 states that ultimately lead to a requirement that every state must operate in all counties either a food stamp or a commodity distribution program to feed the poor.