Biden orders aid to address hunger crisis

Written by on January 22, 2021

President Joe Biden is ordering an expansion of government benefits for hungry Americans after the coronavirus pandemic ignited the worst hunger crisis the United States has seen in modern times.

The decree, one of two executive orders the White House said he will sign Friday, is modest and far short of the actions the president has called for from Congress.

Nonetheless, it represents one of Biden’s first actions since taking office on Wednesday aimed at reviving the world’s largest economy, after Covid-19 caused mass layoffs beginning last year that have left many people scrambling to pay the bills.

“The American people can’t afford to wait. And so many are hanging by a thread, they need help, and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide that help as quickly as possible,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council Director.

Biden’s main initiative to turn the economy around is a $1.9 trillion “rescue” package that he outlined last week, followed by a promised proposal aimed at fueling job creation and spurring hiring.

“Much, much more is needed. And so that’s why, as we take these actions, we will continue to engage with Congress and with the American people around the need to move on the American rescue plan,” Deese told reporters.

The orders also instruct government agencies to help people more quickly access federal stimulus payments, allow workers to leave jobs that could jeopardize their health, and expand protections for federal workers, while laying the groundwork for a minimum wage increase for federal contractors.

-Economy wrecked-

Even after two massive government aid packages, the US economy is reeling from the damage caused by the pandemic, which has seen the death toll soar to 400,000.

The Labor Department reported more than 1.3 million new applications for unemployment were filed last week, and as of the first week of January, nearly 16 million people were still receiving some form of government jobless benefits.

Amid the widespread joblessness, many families are struggling to pay for groceries: the Commerce Department reported in mid-December that 13.7 percent of adults lived in households where they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat.

And millions of children rely on meals from schools, which have been forced to close or modify their schedules during the pandemic.


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