Millions of Americans face hunger, food insecurity

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About 54 million people in America face food insecurity
About 54 million people in America face food insecurity
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The current conversation in the United States about Thanksgiving concerns the serious health risks attendant with traveling and holding large gatherings for the traditional family dinner.

What is not being talked about is another important issue that seems to be swept under the table—millions of Americans face hunger and food insecurity.

Economists have theorized about the future prospects of America. At first, the experts called for a “V-shaped” recovery. The letter represents a sharp decline, then a swift increase in the economy and job market. As time lumbered on during the pandemic, prognosticators shifted to a “K-recovery,” which entails the rich getting wealthier (represented by the upward vertical), as the rest of the country’s fate falls downward.

The lower end of the “K” is dramatically detailed in the food insecurity crisis (roughly defined as not having sufficient access to the needed amount of food for a healthy life) that’s taking place all across the U.S. Nonessential businesses were ordered to shut down and had to lay off or furlough their employees. Companies couldn’t survive the closures and permanently ceased operations. Millions of workers were left bereft of jobs.

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Americans working in low-wage jobs, in sectors such as restaurants, hotels, resorts, retail stores, warehouses, fulfillment centers and other areas that have been hit hard by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, found themselves out of work. Studies show that most families don’t have three months’ worth of emergency money to tide them through a tough time. Tragically, a heartbreakingly large number of people were left without sufficient funds to fortify themselves and their families with enough food. As schools shut down and students were forced to switch to remote learning, families lost the precious free-lunch programs for their children.

Vehicles on a long line waiting for food as COVID-19 pandemic ravages America
Vehicles on a long line waiting for food as COVID-19 pandemic ravages America

Food pantries across the country are dealing with huge lines, as the demand for food greatly increases.

“Thousands of cars lined up to collect food in Dallas over the weekend, stretching as far as the eye can see,” tweeted CBS News.

“HAPPENING NOW: Hundreds of people are in line waiting for a free turkey and other food essentials donated by Operation Hope and other organizations. People started lining up at 10 p.m. last night,” tweeted Shelby Montgomery.

Roger Clark tweeted, “Long lines on a chilly day for Food Distribution in the South #Bronx – @huntspointmkt and @Salamancajr80 getting #food to folks for holidays and beyond #NYC.”

“It is outrageous that in the richest country in the history of the world, people are going hungry. Congress must radically increase food assistance programs and offer grocery delivery options to ensure all people are able to eat safely during this crisis,” tweeted Senator Bernie Sanders.

During the initial dark months of the pandemic, the U.S. witnessed alarmingly record-high unemployment. People went through their meager emergency funds, lost their jobs, apartments and homes. A lot of people were able to find work, got by on unemployment benefits and the federal government stimulus check. Unfortunately, millions of Americans were not able to get back up on their feet and currently face food and housing insecurity this holiday season. It’s estimated that, in the U.S., one in nine people struggles with hunger.

Food insecurity has a long-lasting and deleterious effect on people. It causes serious health consequences, makes people choose between spending money on food, medicine or medical care. There may be long-lasting damage to a child’s ability to learn and grow. It’s a dire predicament for senior citizens—often living on Social Security—to decide between paying for food and getting healthcare.

About four in 10 Americans report that they experienced food insecurity for the first time during the pandemic, according to a new poll by Two Good Yogurt and market research company OnePoll.

About half of the 2,000 people polled say they’ve struggled to afford food, while 37% report skipping meals themselves, so that there would be enough food for their children to eat. Yet, 63% said they didn’t realize they were experiencing food insecurity.

The federal CARES Act helped mitigate pressure on Americans during the initial economic losses of the pandemic, but since the act expired, without further relief forthcoming, more people are relying on assistance from food pantries. “As the benefits of the CARES Act began to expire, rates of food hardship have risen substantially. By September and October, 42% of New Yorkers we surveyed reported that they often or sometimes ran out of food or worried they would run out of food before there was money to buy more,” according to the report.

Although job losses are occurring at various levels, a white-collar professional may still own a home and have enough money tucked away to make it through the crisis. Unfortunately, not every American is so fortunate. Perhaps, this Thanksgiving Day we could all make a concerted effort to contribute to food banks and local charities to help out those in desperate need.

Instead of spending our time arguing with people on social media and in real life over petty political disagreements, this Thanksgiving we could set aside our differences and find ways to help out our fellow American brothers and sisters in need.

Culled from Forbes