Food insecurity, once a rising concern linked to climate change, is now front and center for Americans during the pandemic. With record levels of unemployment, supply chain disruption and rising grocery store costs, more and more Americans are forced to rely on food banks to feed their families.
Justin Block ,the managing director for the digital platform technology at Feeding America noted that “Across the Feeding America network of 200 food banks, the majority of food banks report seeing an increase in the number of people served compared to this time last year with an average increase of almost 60%.” This is substantial and a huge cause for concern. With over 1 million new unemployment claims continuing to be filed every week, even as the unemployment expansion from the CARES Act expired last month, there is no end in sight for those out of work from COVID who need to feed their families.
Feeding America estimates that 1 in 6 Americans will be food insecure this year due to COVID-19, a 46% increase from prior to the virus. Even more disturbing, the amount of children suffering from hunger is projected to rise to 18 million, or 1 in 4.
Even if your immediate concern isn’t putting food on the table, grocery prices will rise for everyone. According to the USDA beef prices will rise by 8%, pork by 4.5% and poultry by 3% this year compared to last year. This is twice as much as the average annual increase in beef and pork prices.
What happens when food banks are overwhelmed? Already feeding exponentially more people than usual, many that are volunteer led have had to shut down due to COVID. Lowcountry Foodbank in South Carolina fed about 140-150 people a month on average before the pandemic. In April, that rose to 1,000, though that number has since dropped and held steady at around 700 per month since. But Brenda Shaw, Chief Development Officer for the Lowcountry Food Bank, expects to see another jump now that the unemployment expansion has expired.
We need serious government intervention. No child should be struggling to eat in the world’s richest country, especially as stock markets continue to climb and the rich get richer off of the chaos of the virus. There is no excuse for this great nation to have 1 in 4 children go hungry. Perhaps the most insidious component of this rising catastrophe is that it is entirely preventable. Unemployment expansion is possible and would boost the economy. Another round of stimulus checks is desperately needed. Rental assistance and an eviction moratorium are key to preventing a second housing crisis, worse than the 2008 recession. 95% of the population wearing masks would control the virus in a matter of weeks and save 40,000 lives by December. Our government must act, and act quickly to prevent economic collapse and the unnecessary death and disenfranchisement of its citizens.
Yours in Strength,
The Take Back Control Team