Indiana Group Cheers New National Strategy on Hunger

The new National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health calls on states to attempt to process all SNAP applications within one week. (Mikhailov Studio/Adobe Stock)

At least one in 10 people in Indiana is considered food insecure, so the Biden administration's announcement of a new National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health is being welcomed by groups fighting hunger in the state.

The federal goal is to end hunger by 2030, in part by making sure multiple government agencies work better together to improve food access and affordability, and prioritize nutrition.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana's Hungry, described the National Strategy as a "whole of government approach," which she predicts will allow individual needs to be targeted.

"How do we ensure that agencies are working together to make sure if you're on one federal program, you're also being sent information about federal nutrition programs?" Weikert Bryant asked. "And vice versa; if you're on federal nutrition programs, are you able to access the other things that you might need for your household? Whether it be child care, or transportation, or things like that, it's looking at it much more broadly."

The administration wants states to achieve a 95% cross-enrollment of eligible people in SNAP, Medicaid and other federal programs. The National Strategy also promotes more physical exercise for health, and more research on nutrition and food security.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 10% of households were food insecure in 2021, and almost 40 million Americans live in areas where grocery stores are not close by. So, the plan also calls for more federal investment in community and economic development to increase food accessibility.

Food banks are another part of the National Strategy and Bryant describes the efforts made by Indiana's 11 member food banks.

"We serve all 92 counties across the State of Indiana, and work with 1,600 local agencies who are providing direct services," Bryant outlined. "We know that we're serving in 'food deserts', we know that we're serving in low-income, low access areas, but it doesn't always mean that the people who live in those neighborhoods know about it and can get there. And so, there's a lot that needs to be done for access."

USDA research indicates only 56% of households without enough food reported using one or more of the three largest federal nutrition programs in the prior month.

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