As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe and throughout the United States one unanticipated consequence is becoming abundantly clear: the COVID-19 hunger crisis.
Since the pandemic took root in March of 2020, the number of households experiencing food insecurity and hunger has increased dramatically, with an additional 17 million people in the United States at risk of food insecurity. That brings the total number of Americans without reliable access to food to 54 million people, or one in every six Americans.
Of those one in six, children and people of color are more heavily affected. As of April 2020, nearly 40% of Black and Latino families with children were struggling to put food on the table.
Why the pandemic impacts food security
Among the issues that have left many unable to access reliable, nutritious food sources are the secondary consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lost income caused by unemployment or reduction in pay
Evictions and homelessness
Loss of reliable transportation to grocery stores and markets
Lack of social support for those working in the informal economy
Travel restrictions related to lockdowns that impact aid distribution
Disruptions to the supply chain and distribution of food products
Lack of access to free or subsidized meals due to closing of schools or other social service centers
Inflation of food prices at the retail level caused by higher demand for non-perishable items
Reduced incomes and inflated food prices require households to cut back on the amount and quality of the food they purchase, with potentially lasting impacts on nutrition and health.
Supporting hunger relief in our community
Many of the steps taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus, like limits on food item purchases and social gatherings, make the solutions to combat hunger even more difficult. Here are a few safe and effective ways to help:
Host a Virtual Food Drive. Food insecurity is worsened when food retailers run out of items to distribute. Instead of rushing to the store to purchase non-perishable food items, encourage friends and neighbors to virtually purchase food for families in need by pledging to give a certain amount to help fight hunger.
Volunteer.Food distribution centers, schools and social service agencies need additional help as demand picks up. Be sure to follow any local safety guidelines such as social distancing and wearing a mask.
Stay Informed. Learn more about hunger in our community and how you can help address the root causes to ensure none of our neighbors go hungry.
Since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March, the Freestore Foodbank has distributed more than 18 million meals throughout the Tri-State area – a 59% rise in food distribution compared to a typical three-month period. One in five children in our community is at risk of hunger right now.
Your donation to the Freestore Foodbank allows us to scale up our services to ensure our children and our neighbors don’t go hungry. Give today.