An anti-hunger leader said amid a historic demand for food assistance, he hopes there will be an immediate crisis response plan crafted at the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health this September and comprehensive conversations in the upcoming farm bill.

Feeding America’s Chief Government Relations Officer Vince Hall told Agri-Pulse Newsmakers he believes lawmakers should consider lessons learned during the pandemic and apply them to future policy.

“If we could take the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer card program and translate that into a permanent nationwide summer EBT program,” Hall said, “then in every community in the United States, whenever the school gates are locked for summer break or extended winter break, those kids would still have access to the nutrition that they were getting from the school cafeteria.”

According to Hall, 65% of Feeding America’s food banks are reporting greater demand for their services and the facilities are shelving the highest percentage of purchased food in their history. This is a result of high food prices, decreased donations, and less help from the Department of Agriculture, he said.

“In some of our food banks the percentage of purchased food has reached 30% to 40%,” Hall said.

The U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics Consumer Price Index Summary May report stated the food at home index rose over 10% in the last year. The ERS said United States food prices are expected to increase 7% to 8% this year.

Aside from domestic hunger concerns, the war in Ukraine is also causing major issues in global food security.

Kip Tom, a former World Food Programme and Food and Agricultural Organization representative from the United States, said the Arab Spring in 2007 will pale in comparison to the impact the war in Ukraine will have on the global food supply.

“This is going to have a direct impact on those that can least afford it the most,” Tom said. “That doesn't matter whether it's the United States, or in a developing economy. This is an epic proportion.”

Tom was also joined by Andrew Cheyne, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program deputy director for the Food Research and Action Center, and Caprock Strategies Principal and former Trump administration USDA Food and Nutrition Service official Brandon Lipps. Cheyne and Lipps discussed parallels between increased prices and food assistance.

Hear more about the impact rising food prices have on the United States food banks on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.

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