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POLITICO reports:

The percentage of households considered food insecure has surged during the pandemic - already to levels much higher than during the depths of the Great Recession - but Black and Hispanic households are faring far worse than white households.

Tracking racial disparities in real time: The latest picture on food security comes from economists at Northwestern University who analyzed weekly surveys conducted by the Census Bureau - a little-noticed data tool that's giving a near real-time look at the economic fallout of the pandemic as well as the stark racial disparities emerging.

Huge gaps: Black and Hispanic households with children are nearly twice as likely to be struggling with food as similar white families, with nearly 4 in 10 now considered food insecure. The wide racial gaps have persisted week to week throughout the pandemic, according to the analysis. The gap between Hispanic and white households also appears to be worsening.

The government defines food insecurity as a household that's either uncertain about or unable to get enough food to feed everyone under their roof at some point during the year because of a lack of money. During the pandemic, the Census Bureau has been asking households about their ability to access food and feed their households during the past seven days.

"This is uncharted territory," said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist and director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. "We've never seen food insecurity rates double, or nearly triple - and the persistent race gaps are just appalling."
Alarming stats on children not getting enough to eat: About 16 percent of households with kids are reporting that children did not eat enough in the previous week, according to a separate analysis by the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project slated to be released this week.

Disparities at every level: That report, also based on the weekly Census Bureau survey data, found extreme racial disparities as well, with 29 percent of Black households and 24 percent of Hispanic households reporting that children were not eating enough, compared with 9 percent of white households.

The political context: The high levels of food insecurity do not appear to be improving, even as some states reopen. The studies come as Democrats on Capitol Hill are again trying to get a 15 percent increase in food stamp benefits into the next coronavirus aid package.

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