Hunger on a Snow Day
Parts of the East Coast are dusted with snow today, which means that lots of lucky kids are enjoying a day off from school and many adults have cleared the shelves of their local grocery stores to be sure they have plenty of food choices while stuck inside for the day. Children who depend on free or reduced school breakfast and lunch probably aren’t as excited about today’s school closures, though. Those parents who carefully plan every food purchase and food pantry visit, working to ensure there is enough food to go around, may be wondering how they'll manage to feed the entire family today. An impromptu stock-up trip to the supermarket may not be an option.
A lot of systems can grind to a halt on a snow day, everything from trash collection to mass transit can be affected, depending on how severe the weather. The formal and informal networks that work to feed hungry and poor people can be impacted, too. Schools and after-school programs close, and often soup kitchens and food banks do, too.
It's hard for families who face hunger to secure adequate food on a good day, and inclement weather makes the task even more difficult. But federal safety-net programs help families weather storms—snowstorms, hurricanes, and less literal hard times. Programs such as WIC, which safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children; and SNAP (formerly food stamps), which supplements the food budgets of the neediest people, have kept household hunger rates from increasing during these tough economic times. Federal nutrition programs, including free and reduced lunch, all work in tandem to fight hunger.
If you're snowed in today (or even if you're not), between watching the kids play outside and cooking up your favorite winter dish, take a moment to think of those who are struggling to put food on their tables. And take action to help ensure that snow days don’t mean days without food for poor families.
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