On any given day, millions of Americans go hungry, whether it be from lack of finances or lack of access to the nourishment they need. Presidential candidate Julián Castro hopes to change that with a new plan released today.
The People First Plan to End Hunger in America commits to universal school meals, extending the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), combatting food deserts and reducing poverty.
“As a nation, we have a moral obligation to ensure that no one goes hungry and that everyone has the nourishment to thrive,” said Secretary Julián Castro in a press release shared with ESSENCE. “Food is a basic human right, like oxygen and water, and we need to make our federal nutrition programs stronger for all Americans to reach their full potential. I believe that when the most vulnerable people succeed, our entire nation makes progress.”
Castro draws on his own upbringing in Texas with a single mother who he says sometimes struggled to make ends meet. “As a child, I saw the grocery list get shorter and shorter as our family budget got tighter and tighter.” With this understanding, Castro is proposing that school lunch be made free for every student to end the shame around the lunch table. He also plans to increase the funding on EBT cards during the summer to account for school being out of session, and re-instate Obama administration standards for school meals.
“I believe that this generation can defeat malnutrition and achieve freedom from hunger,” the 2020 hopeful says.
Building on that idea, Castro, as president, would also ensure that college students are eligible for SNAP benefits and that newborns and new mothers have the nutritional support they need to be prosperous. This includes allowing EBT cardholders the opportunity to use their benefits for online delivery and food shopping, circumventing the persistent food deserts in urban areas.
As it currently stands, African American households are more than twice as likely to face hunger than white households. This directly correlates to lower incomes which Castro hopes to address by increasing wages, expanding Medicare to all Americans, offering universal childcare, a $3,000 Child Tax Credit (CTC) per child, and a” massive expansion” of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The campaign for the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Obama administration insists that his plan to address hunger “builds on Secretary Castro’s bold commitments to stand up for vulnerable communities and the poor.”
“Everyone counts in this country,” Castro affirms, “and it’s about time our public policies reflected that fundamental truth.”