North Dakota has a low rate of food insecurity compared to other states, but hunger is still a major issue.
As many as one in nine children in North Dakota are struggling to have consistent food plans right now.
The expiration of food waivers and the decline of SNAP payments have made it harder for families in need to secure meals.
Inflated prices and shipping troubles make food distribution tougher around the country too, and North Dakota is no exception — our rural areas and recent severe weather have also made it more difficult to transport the things we need to food centers and our schools.
“We all know there’s a supply chain crisis right now,” said Jillien Meier, director of Partnerships and Campaign Strategy for No Kid Hungry. Well, what most people don’t know is that 92% of school districts nationwide are having trouble getting food they need due to that crisis. No one’s thinking about the day-to-day of who’s feeding our children.”
In previous years, school-free meal systems and lunch waivers served as a safety net for students in need.
According to the USDA, in 2019, over 93,000 children in the state participated in school lunch programs.
“Frankly,” noted Meier, “the waivers are what’s keeping it going, and that’s a real source of stabilization and security for these families.”
With free lunch waivers set to expire in June, this spells disaster for many hungry kids who rely on them.
Without proper assistance, 61 North Dakota summer meal programs will have to shut down — leaving over 20,000 children in danger of being pushed off of what Meier calls the “Hunger Cliff” — losing access to free resources one may not be able to afford.
“We talk about it in a way where your income approaches a certain amount,” Meier explained, “and you no longer qualify for SNAP. You could be $10 over that amount, but you’re getting a $100 of food benefits taken away from your family.”
Is there a way to step away from the ledge? It depends. More awareness and public outreach are necessary to ensure children are getting proper nutrition. Until then, it’s a matter of holding out until the problems are resolved.
School meal waivers are set to expire on June 30, if no government action is taken.