A new analysis released on Friday confirms that the number of U.S. households with children who report not having enough food to eat has increased in the months since West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin joined Senate Republicans in refusing to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit benefit beyond mid-December.
From April 27 to May 9, 15 percent of households with children reported food insufficiency, defined as not having enough food to eat at least once in the previous week, according to data from the Household Pulse Survey (HPS), a nationally representative internet survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau. In early August, almost 9.5 percent of families with children said they were hungry.
In the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, a few corporate grocery behemoths and meat, egg, and dairy conglomerates have boosted prices while lowering frontline worker compensation and raking in record profits. However, Manchin and the Republican Party’s choice to let the increased CTC benefit expire at the end of last year has made it much more difficult for millions of families to make ends meet.
Child Hunger Has Skyrocketed Since Manchin, GOP Killed Expanded Child Tax Credithttps://t.co/ml9lSX2SRd
— Paul Cogan (@PaulCogan) May 22, 2022
Despite abundant proof that the popular program enhanced the lives of children across the country, right-wing lawmakers allowed the expanded CTC to lapse. 3.7 million children were forced into poverty in January, the first month since July 2021 that eligible families did not get a monthly payout of up to $300 per child.
Julia Raifman, assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health, and Allison Bovell-Ammon, director of the policy strategy at Children’s HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center, wrote in a guest blog article published Friday by the Economic Policy Institute:
A new analysis confirms that the number of U.S. households with hungry children has surged since Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined the GOP in refusing to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit benefit.@highbrow_nobrow https://t.co/xd3ApcTcCj
— Ale (@aliasvaughn) May 21, 2022
“In prior work using HPS data, we found that the advance CTC was associated with a 26% decrease in food insufficiency in households with children relative to households without children. Our findings were consistent with those of other researchers, who found that the advance CTC was associated with a 25% decline in poverty and improved dietary quality for children.
“In a new pre-print using HPS data, we find expiration of the advance CTC was associated with a 12% increase in food insufficiency in households with children relative to households without children by February—and rates of food insufficiency continued to climb since February.
— Geo Steve (@StephenGlahn) May 22, 2022
“While HPS data are not directly comparable to data collected prior to the pandemic,” Raifman and Bovell-Ammon noted, “rates of food insufficiency in March–April 2022 were about three to four times pre-pandemic levels.”
“Food insufficiency among families with children poses a short- and long-term moral and economic threat to the United States,” they wrote. “Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences.”
The first month that eligible families stopped receiving monthly payments, 3.7 million kids were thrown into poverty.https://t.co/i5taczt6zf
— Paul Cogan (@PaulCogan) May 22, 2022
The pair continued: “Not having enough to eat often disrupts children’s cognitive and emotional development and education. This was the case for a child who disclosed that the reason she was fidgeting and not paying attention in class was that she did not have enough food to eat. There may be lifelong ramifications of not having enough to eat in childhood, including increased likelihood of poor health outcomes and avoidable medical expenditures across the lifespan.”
Despite Manchin’s irrational and dehumanizing claim that parents would use federal funds to buy drugs, Raifman and Bovell-Ammon pointed out that several studies have shown that parents would use federal funds to buy drugs “indicate that low-income families spent the majority of their advance CTC payments on basic needs for their children, such as food, rent, utilities, clothing, and educational costs. There is also no evidence that parents in households receiving CTC payments are less likely to work.”
Thanks to @LeaderMcConnell @SenateGOP @Sen_JoeManchin @SenatorSinema the American people are struggling. They voted NO on gas gouging. NO on helping with the baby formula shortage. NO on $35 Insulin. NO on Child Tax Credit. NO on Voting Right. #VoteBlue
— Dee (@dulcebombomcito) May 22, 2022
Manchin and the GOP still have time to shift direction, according to Raifman and Bovell-Ammon.
“As Congress turns its attention to the next reconciliation package, there is an opportunity to reinstate the expanded CTC monthly payments,” the pair wrote. “Amidst continued inflation, rising food insufficiency in households with children, and the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to affect work, health, and the economy, continuation of the advance CTC payments could help children avoid food insufficiency, with immediate and lifelong personal and societal benefits.”
The GOP didn’t blink an eye when 45 added 7.8 TRILLION to our deficit that enriched already rich Americans—has a problem feeding hungry children.
— TPBlue (@TPBlue4) May 21, 2022
“The most recent wave of HPS data,” Raifman and Bovell-Ammon noted, “show that food insufficiency is concentrated in the lowest-income households with children.”
“Implementing an expanded CTC without exclusions due to work or immigration status will best reach children in families with the greatest need, to the benefit of all children and society,” they added. “While some policymakers have considered work requirements to receive CTC benefits, such requirements carry an administrative burden for states and families that often prevents those who most need benefits from receiving them and results in negative outcomes.”