federal aid, waivers, pandemic recovery, racial equity, public health, food security, stimulus packages, SNAP, WIC, college food insecurity, EBT

Document Type



Food insecurity has been a direct and almost immediate consequence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its associated ramifications on unemployment, poverty and food supply disruptions. As a social determinant of health, food insecurity is associated with poor health outcomes including diet related chronic diseases, which are associated with worst COVID-19 outcomes (e.g., COVID-19 patients of all ages with obesity face higher risk of complications, death). In the United States (US), the federal nutrition safety net is predominantly made up of the suite of 15 federal nutrition assistance programs that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers and the Older American Act Nutrition Program that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers (See Table 1). Both made significant adaptations to help ensure Americans have safe, secureand healthy foods and beverages during this national emergency. This essay briefly discusses the successes and shortcomings of these adaptations by critical life stages and puts forth recommendations for strengthening the public health impacts of our federal nutrition safety net in the near- and longterm.