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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network.

New Study Reveals Racial Disparities Among Food Insecure Families

Esther Honig
Harvest Public Media file photo


The number of families experiencing food insecurity has hit a record due to the pandemic, and Black and Hispanic families are disproportionately affected. 

A newstudyfrom Northwestern University, based on Census Bureau data, shows that 40% of Black households and 36% of Hispanic households are struggling to afford food. Meanwhile, about 22% of white households are reporting food insecurity.


“We’re seeing right now that food insecurity is higher than we’ve ever seen it before,” saysDiane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Director of the Institute for Policy Research, which conducted the study. “But we’re also seeing the depths of the recession we’re in right now is much worse than anything we’ve seen before.”


Historically, there have been racial discrepancies in families reporting food insecurity. According to Schanzenbach, though, these numbers have spiked to levels never seen before and are undoubtedly linked to the coronavirus pandemic.


“This is something that we would predict based on the increase in unemployment, the loss of free and reduced-price school meals that kids usually have access to,” she says.


Schanzenbach says this research highlights the need for an increase in support for federally-funded food benefit programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), which provides money to students who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price schools meals.


She says while these programs have been boosted during the pandemic, the same level of support is needed for the foreseeable future. She says she’s petitioning Congress to increase SNAP benefits by 15%.


“They did that during the Great Recession, and what we learned was not only was it effective for helping families combat food insecurity… but it also helped stimulate the economy,” Schanzenbach says. “We would sure like to see Congress do it again."


Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaHCronin

Copyright 2020 Harvest Public Media

Dana Cronin is a reporter based in Urbana, Illinois. She covers food and agriculture issues in Illinois for Harvest. Dana started reporting in southern Colorado at member station 91.5 KRCC, where she spent three years writing about everything from agriculture to Colorado’s highest mountain peaks. From there she went to work at her hometown station, KQED, in San Francisco. While there she covered the 2017 North Bay Fires. She spent the last two years at NPR’s headquarters in Washington D.C., producing for shows including Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.