Our Best Food Access Reporting of 2022 | Civil Eats

Our Best Food Access Reporting of 2022

Rising inflation is colliding with the end of some pandemic-era programs that helped people in need. As food insecurity rises, we reported on some of the most promising solutions aimed at providing access to healthy food. 

A USPS postal worker leaves the line at the CoPO pantry. The price of fuel oil increased by 43.6 percent over the past 12 months, while food rose 7.9 percent. As the war drags on in Ukraine, prices for food are expected to continue to rapidly climb.

A USPS postal worker leaves the line at the CoPO pantry. The price of fuel oil increased by 43.6 percent over the past 12 months, while food rose 7.9 percent. As the war drags on in Ukraine, prices for food are expected to continue to rapidly climb. (Photo credit: Jake Price)

The federal government provided critical emergency support to people in need during the pandemic, including increased benefits for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) Program and universal free school meals. But with many of these programs ending this year and food prices rising, U.S. households are experiencing greater food insecurity.

In summer 2022, 21.4 percent of U.S. households were food insecure, a 6 percent increase from spring 2021, according to the Urban Institute. Black (29.2 percent) and Latinx (32.3 percent) adults faced even greater food insecurity rates.

In the wake of the pandemic, Civil Eats has continued to closely cover food access and security. We followed states such as California and New York that have invested millions of dollars into helping communities gain greater access fresh food, and we spoke to nonprofits, churches, and individuals that are stepping up to help feed their neighbors in need. Here are our most important stories about food insecurity in the U.S., as well as how cities, states, and communities are trying to address this persistent problem.

Incarceration, Abolition, and Liberating the Food System
Six food and agriculture organizers discuss the role of resistance, healing, and community in their work.

Fresh produce on display at Laredo Market in San Jose, California. (Photo courtesy of The Food Trust)

California Gives a Big Boost to Corner Stores that Sell Fresh Produce
The state’s Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program will invest $20 million to bring fresh produce to low-access communities in 2022.

Is Michelle Wu America’s Food Justice Mayor?
The new leader of Boston is embarking on the most ambitious food policy agenda the city has ever seen, and one that could serve as an example for cities nationwide.

A New Approach to Keep Former Foster Youth from Facing Food Insecurity
Transitioning from foster care can leave young adults without the life skills or tools to fend for themselves. Advocates are proposing changes to keep them from going hungry.

Sustainable caught fish from Long Island’s Haskell's Seafood, a family run fishery, being delivered to the kosher Masbia pantry in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Photo Essay: How Nourish New York Is Still Feeding NYC
A program created to support farmers and feed New Yorkers amidst the pandemic’s food crisis is here to stay.

Can Produce Prescription Programs Turn the Tide on Diet-Related Disease?
As the farm bill process ramps up and some hope to expand the use of Produce Rx programs, new research seeks to assess the impact of this “food as medicine” tactic.

As Dollar Stores Proliferate, Some Communities Push Back
Dollar store parent companies say they’re feeding people in ‘food deserts,’ but critics say they’re making food inequity worse. Now, 25 municipalities have some form of moratorium on new stores.

Coca-Cola billboard

How Mexican Public Health Advocates Fought Big Soda and Won
The new film ‘El Susto’ documents efforts to tax soda in Mexico at a time when Coca-Cola was more accessible than water and Type 2 diabetes was the leading cause of death.

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Venison Was An Important Protein Source for Food Banks. Now It May Be Too Dangerous to Eat. 
Chronic wasting disease is running rampant among deer populations, and hunters have much less meat to donate to food banks.

‘Buy Nothing’ Groups Are Doubling as Food Distribution Networks 
As inflation and grocery prices soar, a volunteer in San Francisco created a food pantry from scratch to feed neighbors in need. Now, she hopes the model catches on.

This Pilot Program Is Supporting Tribal Food Sovereignty with Federal Dollars
Tribes are teaching the USDA about self-determination agreements in order to administer their own FDPIR food assistance programs. Will it be enough?

Do Regulations Designed to Promote Nutrition Make WIC Food Lists Too Restrictive?
The program aims to address nutrition gaps among low-income women, infants, and children, but hyper-specific requirements for food and state variations can make shopping complicated.

This Group Has Rerouted 250 Million Pounds of Food From Landfills to Feed People in Need
The LA-based nonprofit Food Forward is using the lessons it learned during the pandemic to expand food assistance into other cities, regions, and communities.

AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith: Volunteer Service Is Key to Food Security
As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, the government agency’s new leader discusses the many ways it’s addressing myriad food-related and challenges, especially in marginalized, low-income communities.

Agrihoods Promise Fresh Food and Community. Can They Add Equity to the List?
Agrihoods promise to save farmland by turning it into a residential amenity. Can this effort to bridge housing and farmland support environmental justice?

Kalamazoo Valley Community College

How One Rust Belt College Is Transforming Its Local Food System
In Michigan, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has built a rare model aimed at connecting people through growing food, supporting local farmers, and educating a wide variety of community members.

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Hydroponics Help Urban Schools Grow Food Year-Round
In New York, Maryland, California, and beyond, hydroponic farms are being used as teaching tools while also addressing food access challenges.

Are People Who Need Feeding Tubes Left on Their Own When Disaster Strikes?
Some cities are starting to update their emergency response systems to include the half million Americans who rely on tubes for nutrition. In the face of the climate crisis, the change is urgently needed.

Parker and Williams are excited by the potential the new lot has and all the people they can feed with what they grow in it.

In South Los Angeles, a Church Community Takes Food Sovereignty Into Its Own Hands
Fighting generations of systemic racism and food apartheid, the leaders of St. Mark UMC are growing a community-focused garden, and hoping the seeds of change spread.

Will a Buffett-Funded Co-op in the Hudson Valley Boost Food Access or Lead to Gentrification?
With an influx of post-pandemic home buyers, Kingston, New York is changing fast. Can a co-op funded by Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation bring fresh food to more residents without driving out the low-income residents it aims to help?

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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