Our Best Food Access Reporting of 2023 | Civil Eats

Our Best Food Access Reporting of 2023

Looking back on a year of reporting about high food prices, the impacts on disadvantaged communities, and solutions to food insecurity.

A woman holds a bag of pears as she waits in line to receive free food at the Richmond Emergency Food Bank. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A woman holds a bag of pears as she waits in line to receive free food at the Richmond Emergency Food Bank. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Nearly three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began upendeding the global food system, we are still seeing food insecurity in all the same places. Early, and major, changes to federal food-assistance programs did address rising food insecurity, but the end of those programs, coupled with astronomical inflation and food prices, put many more households at risk of going hungry.

Over the course of this year, we continued to report on how food insecurity is taking shape around the country—looking at the causes and effects of food inflation, how the people who grow our food often can’t afford to buy it for themselves, and the potential return of school lunch shaming. 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.

Can Discount Grocer Lidl Offer Better Food Access in DC’s Ward 7?
The recent opening of the German grocery chain in Southeast DC gives residents a much-needed source for healthy, affordable food. Many hope it will drive other solutions to food insecurity in the under-served area.

Pay-What-You-Can Farm Stands Feed Communities Against Tough Odds
COVID and inflation made fresh fruit and vegetables harder for many to access. Farms offering produce based on what people can pay have played an increasingly important role in keeping communities around the country healthy.

A disabled person in an electric wheelchair shops for groceries in a supermarket even though food price inflation is making it harder.

How Food Inflation Adds to the Burdens Disabled People Carry
Between the dramatic increase in food prices and the end of pandemic-era SNAP benefit increases, disabled people are struggling to access the food they need to stay healthy.

Food Prices Are Still High. What Role Do Corporate Profits Play?
Corporate food companies have made record profits these last few years, and they’re hoping it stays that way.

States Are Fighting to Bring Back Free School Meals
Over the last year, momentum has been building to revive the pandemic-era model of universal school food access. A new coalition is pushing the federal government to act.

People wait in line for food at the annual Thanksgiving in the Park gathering where residents of the farm worker community of Immokalee are provided with a free Thanksgiving meal. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Immokalee, Florida
The majority of migrant farmworkers live below the federal poverty line, without easy access to healthy foods or affordable housing. To survive, many in this tight-knit community have found strategies for mutual aid and collaborative resilience.

How Benefit Cuts May Create a ‘Perfect Storm’ for Food Insecurity
Hunger advocates and researchers believe the end to emergency allotments—coupled with revised work requirements for SNAP—will pressure food banks, hurt public health, impact kids, and revive old prejudices.

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San Diego hosted a food distribution at Pechanga Arena last June. (Photo credit: Victoria Pearce, Feeding San Diego)

Photo credit: Victoria Pearce, Feeding San Diego

Food Insecurity Is Common in the US Military. Will Congress Vote to Expand Benefits?
Despite its enormous budget, experts and former service members say the U.S. military is failing to ensure soldiers can feed their families.

Photo Essay: How DC Central Kitchen Tackles Hunger, From Food Trucks to Training Programs
The nonprofit is the primary school food provider to 19 Washington, D.C., schools. But kids need meals even when schools close for the summer. Here’s how it feeds kids—and families—where they are.

Congress Puts Federal Support for Urban Farming on the Chopping Block
Since the last farm bill, the USDA has spent more than $50 million to support food production in cities and suburbs, but the programs might not last.

a young parent feeds an infant food that they bought using their wic benefit

Changes to WIC Benefits Would Cut Food Access for Millions of Parents
In this week’s Field Report, the WIC program faces funding cuts that could affect access to staple foods and infant formula, crop insurance costs rise as the climate changes, and more.

Without Federal School-Meal Support, Lunch Shaming May Be Back on the Menu
Before the pandemic, some schools determined to manage school meal debt had resorted to tactics that embarrassed kids. The government provided universal free meals for two years, but the federal waivers expired in July.

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Tribes Are Building Food Sovereignty With Help From the Nation’s Largest Hunger-Relief Group
Five tribal nations are working with Feeding America to improve their ability to produce more food and respond to disasters. If it works, the pilot could inform a larger shift in how the massive organization works with Indigenous communities.

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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