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Maine Advocates Laud Biden's Executive Order Addressing Food Insecurity

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Volunteers Holly Roberts, right, and Terry Lord pick fruit to be bagged and given away at a food pantry at the First Universalist Church, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Norway, Maine.

President Joe Biden has issued an executive order intended to provide more aid to families experiencing food insecurity, or hunger, during the pandemic.

Chris Hastedt of the advocacy organization Maine Equal Justice says the order recognizes that what families have been getting isn’t enough.

“And I think he’s taking that to heart in this executive order and learning from the experience of the pandemic that we’ve needed to beef up the amount of assistance for people in order for them to make it through these times. And that need will continue after the pandemic is over,” she says.

While food insecurity has long been a problem in Maine, Hastedt says hunger has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

“What we see in Maine is that 66,000 adults reported that their families just didn’t have enough to eat. And when it comes to families with kids, they reported that 24,000 families with children, those kids weren’t getting enough to eat because the family couldn’t afford it,” she says, pointing to recent census data.

Biden’s executive order increases funding for a program that provides cash to families to replace free meals kids would normally get from school, and bump up SNAP benefits by 15-20%.

“It would be just such a welcome addition to the food budget, of families that are struggling to help their kids have enough to eat so that they can learn,” Hastedt says.