Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A billboard calls out Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, both Republicans from Kentucky, for blocking $16 billion in food aid Americans, including nearly $133 for Kentuckians.

A billboard calls out Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, both Republicans from Kentucky, for blocking $16 billion in food aid for Americans, including nearly $133 million for Kentuckians. (Photo: Hunger Free America)

'Hunger Clock' Billboards Blast McConnell and GOP Senators for Blocking $16 Billion in Food Aid

"Let's be clear: this delay in food aid may lead to even more Americans unnecessarily dying."

Jessica Corbett

The nonprofit group Hunger Free America announced Monday that it is running "Hunger Clock" billboard ads across the country to call out GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republican senators for blocking $16 billion in food assistance for Americans struggling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is simply unconscionable that Leader McConnell and the Senate GOP are playing politics with food aid while massive numbers of their own constituents struggle against hunger."
—Joel Berg, Hunger Free America

"It is simply unconscionable that Leader McConnell and the Senate GOP are playing politics with food aid while massive numbers of their own constituents struggle against hunger," Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said in a statement. "Food delayed is food denied."

The group has billboards not only in Kentucky targeting McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) but also in five other states—targeting Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

"Most of them represent states with hunger rates higher than the national average," said Berg. "Not only would this food support feed hungry people in their home states, but it would also preserve or create local jobs, and thereby help the economy get back on its feet. It is simply shocking that, by his own admission, McConnell is blocking these and other vital aid measures in that bill because he says he doesn't want to help 'blue states.'"

In April, McConnell referred to demands for more pandemic relief as "blue state bailouts" in a conversation with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt.

"While we want to be clear that both sides are not equally to blame for this delay," Berg explained, "we are also disappointed that Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has not spoken out publicly in favor of the immediate passage of this vital food support at a time when so many Arizona families are going hungry, which is why we also included her in this ad campaign."

The billboards highlight that it has been 51 days since the Democrat-controlled House passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act and the Republican-controlled Senate has not acted on the bill. Although progressives have charged that the coronavirus relief legislation does not go far enough, it does include some much needed food aid.

As Hunger Free America summarized Monday:

The HEROES Act passed by the House provides a 15% increase in benefits for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). That hike would increase the average SNAP benefit nationwide by about 20 cents per meal, from the current level of $1.34 per meal to about $1.54 per meal. The bill also includes a $150 million increase for funding to charitable food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries, many of which are faith-based. Additionally, the bill boosts nutrition support for low-income pregnant women and infants, provides extra food help to children whose school meals programs have been closed during the pandemic, and reimburses school districts for extra food distribution costs during this crisis.

"Let's be clear: this delay in food aid may lead to even more Americans unnecessarily dying," declared Berg. "The opposition of congressional Republicans and President Trump to increasing domestic food support during the worst health and hunger crises in modern times is not only morally outrageous and economically self-defeating, but it is also, frankly, dumb politics."

"Once the American people learn about this food aid holdup, they will be incensed. That is why we urge the public to help us ramp up pressure on Senate Republicans to pass this food assistance immediately," he added. "Only people power can force an end to this deadly political grandstanding."

Hunger Free America is encouraging critics of Senate GOP inaction to sign a petition urging the upper chamber to take immediate action, donate to the group to support the billboards and other initiatives, and share personal stories about struggling during the pandemic on social media with the hashtag #PassHeroesAct.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo