Food pantries and dairy and produce giveaways are part of our COVID-19 new normal. But the numbers of folks applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has been holding steady, at least in Franklin and Essex counties.

The cost of groceries has been rising at the fastest pace in decades since the coronavirus pandemic seized the U.S. economy, leading to sticker shock for basic staples like beef and eggs and forcing struggling households to rethink how to put enough food on the table.

A new federal law protects some of the nation’s poorest renters from eviction and provides poor homeowners a grace period on mortgage payments, but the support may not be enough for tenants, homeowners and landlords and could reduce housing supply in rural areas.

These days, wages in the United States are doing something extraordinary: They’re growing faster at the bottom than at the top. In fact, recent growth for workers with low wages has outpaced that for high-wage workers by the widest margin in at least 20 years.

BRUSHTON — David Prosper remembers needing help paying for school lunch when the Brushton native was a child.

MALONE –– An old bowling alley at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Malone is packed with toys. From Power Rangers to My Little Pony, there are toys for kids of all ages. They have all been donated as part of the Holiday Helpers Toys for Tots toy drive.

WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department moved again this week to cut spending on food stamps, this time proposing changes that would slice $4.5 billion from the program over five years, trimming monthly benefits by as much as $75 for 1 in 5 struggling families on nutrition assistance.