The health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has made the federal nutrition programs more important than ever. A record number of people in America do not have enough to eat, and it is likely that the economic recovery for families who struggle to put food on the table will take years. Recovery will be particularly challenging for those groups that have suffered disproportionate harm from COVID-19. Unlike differences, inequities are the result of the unfair distribution of resources due to structural factors. The goals of this review are to examine the connections between hunger, poverty, health, and equity during COVID-19, and to discuss the role of the federal nutrition programs in the recovery from the pandemic. This white paper begins with the linkages between hunger, poverty, and health during COVID-19. It then details how COVID-19 has exacerbated disparities that predated the pandemic due to systemic injustices. The paper follows with a review of new research on how the federal nutrition programs reduce hunger, poverty, and health, including their efficacy during the pandemic. This paper concludes with policy recommendations to leverage the federal nutrition programs for a robust and equitable recovery.
Read the report