Hunger is not new in America. Even before the pandemic, 35 million people relied on food banks every year, according to Feeding America. But the pandemic has been catastrophic – despite initial lauded federal interventions such as the stimulus cheques and enhanced unemployment benefit. As many as 54 million people could experience hunger this year, including a quarter of all children.
Millions of Americans must rely on charity to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table this year, as hunger surges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Less than half of US households with children feel “very confident” about having enough money to afford the food needed over the next month.
5.6m households struggled to put enough food on the table in the past week.
Families of color are suffering disproportionately with 27% of Black and 23% of Latino respondents with children reported not having enough to eat sometimes or often over the past week – compared with 12% of white people.
Overall food insecurity has doubled since last year due to record unemployment and underemployment rates. For families with children, hunger is three times higher than in 2019.
“We’re now seeing families who had an emergency fund but it’s gone and they’re at the end of their rope. We’re going to be doing this for a really long time, and that’s frankly terrifying given the impact hunger has on physical health, learning and development for children and parents’ stress,” said Kristin Warzocha, president of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
“Hunger isn’t hidden anymore,” said Trisha Cunningham, CEO of the North Texas Food Bank. “If it isn’t you, then this is your neighbor, this is your child’s classmate, this is your hairdresser.”
According to the Lakeview pantry CEO Kellie O’Connell. “The pandemic has brought to light how normal wasn’t working for so many people, especially black and brown communities.”