We recognize that there are few things as frustrating as "will they or won't they" scenarios. Still, if you're convinced that the expanded Child Tax Credit of 2021 is dead, you may be wrong. Here's why.
As politicians geared up
Over the past few months, while many of us have been distracted by politicians of all stripes preening for the cameras, President Joe Biden quietly pursued his goal of ending hunger in the U.S. And if all goes according to plan, the president's goal will bring back expanded Child Tax Credit payments and more money into the bank accounts of those who need it most.
In late September, as Biden met with an auditorium full of public health officials, academics, policymakers, advocates, and representatives of private companies, the president made his case for ending hunger in the U.S. by the end of the decade. The meeting was billed as the first White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health since 1969.
Biden's vision of a U.S. where no child goes hungry includes access to healthier food alternatives and access to outdoor spaces where children can play, burn off energy, and just be kids.
The Biden administration plan
For the Biden administration, ending childhood hunger is no pie-in-the-sky dream. In fact, the administration has released an extensive strategy for fighting hunger, including:
- Reinstating and making permanent the expanded Child Tax Credit that expired in December 2021. Biden noted that the Child Tax Credit cut child poverty in half and reduced food insecurity by a full 26%.
- Expansion of SNAP eligibility.
- Expansion of the national school lunch program incrementally, with the ultimate goal of providing access to free lunches to 9 million children over the next decade.
- Making permanent the Summer EBT program, giving low-income families the money they need to buy groceries when kids aren't in school to receive meals.
- Fair wages and collective bargaining rights for workers who "grow, produce, and process our food."
- Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to give working families a better shot at buying food and other necessities.
Big name backing
Prior to the meeting, the administration released a list of private companies, charitable foundations, and industry groups that have committed to donating more than $8 billion toward the effort. Commitments include:
- Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk: $20 million to improve access to healthy foods and safe spaces for kids in marginalized communities to play.
- Food company Danone: $22 million to fund a program that will help Americans build healthier dietary habits.
- Grocery chain Publix: $3.85 million to supply food to local food banks as well as establish free mobile food pantries.
- Grocery chain Meijer: 10% discount to encourage SNAP program participants to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
With such a clear target and so many sectors signing on in support, it's just possible Biden will have the momentum he needs to see this plan through during his time in office.
"That's why we're here today, to harness our greatest resource: Our fellow Americans," Biden said. "Everyone, everyone has an important role to play."
The bridge that must be crossed
What stands between the President and ending childhood hunger is an increasingly tribal, partisan Congress. It's a Congress that has been more committed to shutting down Biden's agenda than fighting childhood hunger -- and that could make it tough to get the plan approved. Unfortunately, it will be the final makeup of Congress after all midterm election results are tabulated that will determine the fate of the ambitious program.
If ending childhood hunger and the permanent renewal of the expanded Child Tax Credit is important to you and your family, here's how you can contact your elected representatives to let your voice be heard.
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