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Anti-Hunger Advocate to Tout Safety Net's Benefit in ID

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Friday, August 6, 2021   

BOISE, Idaho -- The head of Hunger Free America is coming to Idaho this weekend as part of his tour across the country.

Joel Berg, CEO of the organization, is driving across the U.S. to mark his 20 years of service and see what hunger looks like from state to state. Speaking from the road, he said hunger is pervasive in every community and that it defies stereotypes, and added the pandemic was like ripping the bandage off a wound that already was there.

"In the pandemic, people who were already poor and already hungry became poorer and hungrier, and people at the edge of poverty and hunger were pushed into poverty and hunger, and we still haven't recovered from that," Berg asserted.

Berg will be in Idaho on Saturday to meet with anti-hunger advocates at the Boise Farmers Market. More than 200,000 Idahoans are food insecure, about one in nine, according to projections from Feeding America on how the pandemic has affected hunger levels in the state.

Berg pointed out federal boosts to the safety net have been crucial, noting the vital role for families of programs such as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), which helped children receive meals while classrooms were closed.

"There's no question in the sites I've visited around the country, regardless of the people's ideology, regardless of their job title, there's basically universal agreement that the programs that were started in the pandemic to better feed people should be made permanent," Berg observed.

More than 120,000 Idaho children are eligible for P-EBT this summer, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, were also expanded during the pandemic.

Berg said stimulus checks have been important as well.


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