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Photo of bare grocery shelves show impact of winter storm, not ‘Build Back Better’

October 19, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Photo of empty grocery shelves shows impact of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” policies.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo was taken during the winter storm in Houston, Texas, in February.

THE FACTS: A photo circulating widely on Instagram on Tuesday shows near-empty grocery store shelves in Houston, which the caption suggested was a result of Biden’s “Build Back Better,” an agenda that focuses on social policy and programs.

“Supply chain issues. Terrible job numbers. People quitting their job because the government is essentially forcing them to put a needle in their arm or lose their job. Crumbling economy, terrible inflation, and the list goes on. This is Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better!’” the Instagram caption stated.

But the post, which received more than 135,000 likes on Instagram, left out that the photo was taken during a severe winter storm. The photo was taken on Feb. 20, 2021, in Houston by photographer Francois Picard for Agence France-Presse. The extreme low temperatures left millions in Texas without power and water, which also devastated the entire transportation infrastructure. Some grocery stores had to close locations entirely.

The legislation at the center of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan was introduced to the House in September, and Democrats are still working to rally support for the bill.

Due to the pandemic, there have been ongoing supply-chain disruptions causing grocery stores to have inconsistent inventory. But there are currently no nationwide food shortages or widespread supply-chain issues, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.