As America entered a new millennium, crises of climate, economics, and health made it painfully clear that neither personal responsibility nor charity could sufficiently meet the needs of an entire population. Americans needed structural support to weather the crises.

Centering a false belief in personal responsibility and rugged individualism, popular, derogatory myths like that of the “welfare queen” lent public validation to the austerity policies that unraveled the social safety net many Americans had come to rely upon in the 1980’s and 1990’s. But in the years that followed, cracks appeared in that public consensus. 

New social and political movements emerged, pressuring the government to provide for its people — not only in times of crisis, but all the time. Understanding that systemic change is necessary in the fight against hunger, Americans in the new millennium have begun to challenge the previously prevailing narrative that policymakers used to justify shredding the social safety net over the past four decades. Many Americans are now demanding that elected officials and the system they maintain meet their responsibilities to care for the most vulnerable among us.