The percentage of Americans that don’t have enough food to eat increased in 2022, as inflation squeezed family budgets and pandemic-era benefits expired. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows food insecurity increased from 10.2% in 2021 to 12.8% in 2022. This means 10.3 million more people lived in households that could not afford enough food to eat at some point last year. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Lauren Hall explains who’s most affected by the rising rates of hunger: 

Food insecurity continues to be substantially higher for households that are American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic, or multiracial compared to households overall, showing stark inequities. Additionally, food insecurity was more severe for households with children in 2022, a setback from food insecurity reaching a two-decade low for families with children in 2021. This builds on recent Census data that show the country experienced the largest one-year increase in history in overall poverty and child poverty in 2022, driven by the expiration of pandemic relief — including the expanded Child Tax Credit.

Congress must answer for mass shootings
There have been more mass shootings in the United States in 2023 than days on the calendar. The violence that erupted last week in Lewiston, Maine was only one of the latest tragedies that showed the need for gun reform in the country. A Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate editorial calls out Congress for refusing to face reality on gun violence. 

Assault weapons ought to be outlawed, as they were for a decade. Congress put a ban in place in 1994 but allowed it to expire in 2004. Along with local law enforcement, this newspaper criticized that decision. We think we have been proven right: Sales of these weapons have surged in the years since. Despite the mounting deaths in mass shootings, and despite support for restrictions from the public and from law enforcement, Congress has refused to restore the ban.

Community solar projects
The nonprofit Together New Orleans and an order of Catholic nuns scored a victory earlier this week in their efforts to build solar energy projects to assist low-income people. The New Orleans City Council on Monday unanimously approved changes to the city’s Community Solar Program to make it easier for people who rent or can’t afford panels to access electricity savings. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Wesley Muller explains how the program works: 

Under the program, instead of purchasing solar panels, a resident can subscribe to a community solar development anywhere in the city. The subscribers then receive credits on their electric bill for the energy the solar gardens produce. Such developments are called solar gardens because they are typically smaller than utility-scale solar farms but bigger than rooftop solar installations. Together New Orleans has helped spearhead the city’s Community Solar Program as a companion to its Community Lighthouse Project, which primarily provides places of shelter and backup power during disasters. 

Nurses seek union 
Nurses at New Orleans’ University Medical Center are seeking to form a union in order to alleviate staffing shortages through better pay and benefits, improve the quality and safety of working conditions and have more input in decision making. The Crescent City health care landscape is dominated by two corporations – LCMC Health and Ochsner Health. Verite’s Drew Costley explains the harmful side effects of this “health care duopoly.”

Healthcare in New Orleans is dominated by two corporations: LCMC Health and Ochsner Health. Both corporations have medical facilities throughout the state. (Nurse Tatiana) Mukhtar said this has created a “healthcare duopoly” that has affected labor conditions and quality of care for patients for the worse. … Tully said many of her colleagues have either left the profession or chosen to work at nursing homes and assisted living facilities over hospitals because the COVID-19 pandemic magnified existing issues at UMC. 

Number of the Day
44 – Louisiana’s national rank for per-capita personal income of residents. As of mid-2023, the Pelican State’s average personal income was $57,204. (Source: Stateline)