Congress Should Pass Infrastructure Bill to End Childhood Hunger in United States

The United States has the strongest economy in the world, but levels of child hunger and poverty than almost all other high income countries. Two programs can help you: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) and the Child Tax Credit.

Food benefits from SNAP have been increased by the greatest margin in US history. And the recent expansion of the child tax credit, introduced as part of the US bailout, is changing the way the tax credit is given and has the potential to reduce child poverty in half.

There is just one problem: the expansion of the child tax credit is temporary.

The future of the child tax credit, a slice of the $ 3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, is in the hands of Congress right now.

As a pastor, I know many families who struggle to put food on the table. They often have to choose between food, rent, electricity or school supplies. This is the reality for millions of Americans.

The recent expansion of the child tax credit, introduced as part of the US bailout, changes the way the tax credit is granted and has the potential to halve child poverty.

If we don’t act quickly to make it permanent, it will quickly disappear, pushing millions of families and children back into food insecurity and poverty.

There are many good arguments for expanding the expansion of the child tax credit. The first is that hunger and child poverty cost much more than most people realize. A to study estimates the economic losses in the United States caused by hunger and child poverty at more than $ 1 trillion per year; these losses are mainly due to the lack of future productivity of the workforce and the costly impact of poverty and hunger on our health system.

In 2020, the federal government‘s swift and widely successful program reply economic fallout from COVID-19 has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that with political goodwill, Congress and the federal government can overcome traditional partisan divisions in times of crisis. Childhood hunger and poverty is a crisis we can face.

Most importantly: these perk extensions work. SNAP monthly benefit increases have research behind them and help low-income families buy nutritious meals, which benefits overall health care in our country.

While no plan of this magnitude can be perfect, the expanded child tax credit has a spectacular success story to tell. Just by making the child tax credit refundable, and therefore available even to families who do not file taxes, this crucial benefit has the potential to achieve 27 million children living in families that were not previously eligible.

In addition, the new method of disbursing the child tax credit in monthly distributions has has already had a considerable effect on reducing child hunger, and the direct effect of these benefits on child poverty could hardly be overstated. A recent study by Gregory Acs and Kevin Werner of the Urban Institute project that continuing the expanded child tax credit beyond 2021 would reduce the child poverty rate by 40 percent.

Tackling long-standing societal ills like child poverty and hunger is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Together, the increase in SNAP benefits and the expansion of the child tax credit will do more to reduce child hunger and poverty than any other policy change in more than 50 years. But almost everything will depend on whether or not an extension of the child tax credit is extended beyond the year it was authorized.

Reverend Eugene Cho is President and CEO of Bread for the World.

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