MAmericans ’illusions must rely on charity to put this year’s Thanksgiving dinner on the table as the flare-up of hunger takes place amid a devastating spiritual drift of the Covid-19 epidemic that the Trump administration could not control.
Traditionally, during the celebration season, less than half of U.S. households with children feel “very confident” that they have enough money to afford the food they need next month, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau epidemic survey. The staggering 5.6 million households struggled last week to put enough food on the table.
Color families suffer disproportionately, with 27% of black and 23% of respondents with Latin children reporting that sometimes or often there was not enough to eat in the past week – compared with 12% of white people.
Overall food insecurity has doubled since last year due to record unemployment and underemployment. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Northwestern University’s Nonpartisan Political Research Institute, analyzes that hunger for families with children is three times higher than in 2019.
Now that new cuts are being considered across the country to slow the spread and record hospital treatments, the Guardian’s latest snapshot shows an unprecedented demand for food aid:
In Cleveland last Thursday, 5,000 families appeared in the pre-Thanksgiving car race, up from 3,300 a week earlier and an average of 1,600 this summer. About 54% of the food distributed was for children and the elderly. “We now see families who had emergency checkouts, but that’s gone and they’re at the end of their ropes. We’re going to be doing this for a very long time, and frankly it’s scary, given the impact hunger has on physical health, learning and child development, and parental stress, ”said Kristin Warzocha, president of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
One woman in Cleveland, who did not want to be identified, let herself out of the hospital without medical advice so as not to miss the Thanksgiving food box. “This need and the depth of despair is felt in some families,” Warzocha added.
There were long lines in Dallas earlier this month as the North Texas Food Bank provided food to just over 25,000 people – it was the busiest day on the record. The food bank distributed 7,000 whole turkeys that day, and a total of about £ 600,000 worth of food. “Hunger is no longer hidden,” said Trisha Cunningham, CEO of the food bank. “If it’s not you, it’s your neighbor, this kid’s classmate, this hairdresser.”
In downtown Alabama, demand for the Grace Klein dining room increased 20% from last month. “There may be rumors of civil unrest or an increase in Covid cases triggering demand, but people are making a living from this food,” Director Jenny Waltman said. The chamber currently serves about 12,000 people a week, compared to 2,500 in the week before the pandemic. The 200 volunteers and staff are exhausted, Waltman said.
The Food Bank in New York was forced to start clowning frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving long before the holiday. Demand slowed slightly in August, when public health restrictions eased and people returned to work, but another shortfall ensued and lines were growing. “The ramps were urged to be supplied before the holidays” [and] sending more trucks to neighborhoods so people don’t have to wait in cold, crowded queues, ”said Matt Honeycutt, director of development at the food bank.
In Chicago, the Lakeview Chamber provided food to 237% more people this year compared to 2019, according to CEO Kellie O’Connell, demand “rebounded” after the summer leveled off slightly. “The pandemic has highlighted how normal not so many people work, especially in the black and brown community.”
“Demand across the country didn’t let go, and food banks did their best to have food on the table for families on Thanksgiving Day. There is no end on the horizon, but we cannot be the only solution, ”said Zuani Villareal, a spokesman for Feeding America, a nationwide 200 food bank. Since the start of the epidemic, every ten people seeking food aid are the first to report.
Hunger is not new in America. Even before the pandemic, 35 million people relied on food banks each year, Feeding America writes. But the epidemic was catastrophic – despite praising federal interventions such as checking incentives and increased unemployment benefits from the start. This year, 54 million people could starve, including a quarter of all children.
How to help U.S. food banks with the Covid-19 epidemic
How can I help
Even before the Covid-19 epidemic, more than 40 million Americans relied on food banks to get enough food. Demand for emergency food aid is growing exponentially as millions of people lose their jobs.
As this demand grows, food banks will receive far fewer donations from retailers as people buy in bulk, so stocks are low. This means that food banks will have to buy more supplies to make sure they are providing enough food for all the hungry Americans to help.
Donate money or supplies
The Feeding America network of 200 food banks provides and distributes 4.3 billion foods through 60,000 food chambers and meal programs annually. They help vulnerable communities, including the elderly and the disabled, and provide free nutritional lunches to schools for low-income families.
If you want to help, contact your local food bank and visit their website to donate. You can also donate to the Feeding America Covid-19 Response Fund.
Food banks rely on volunteers, and feeding and food chambers in the United States need urgent help, as the majority of regular volunteers are senior citizens who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. If you want to become a new volunteer, use the Feeding America tool to find your local food bank or pantry, but please contact them before you show up. Remember that if you are worried about your own health or the danger to your family members, “stay home” is the advice.
Feeding America also says it can help in small ways, such as following the local food bank on social media and sharing its online activities, or by becoming an advocate for ending hunger in America.
In some states, the numbers are even sharper. In New Mexico, one in three children will feel hungry this year, according to Albuquerque-based Sonya Warwick Road Runner Food Bank.
As most federal benefits have expired and the third incentive bill, the Heroes Act, continues to dare on Capitol Hill, lawyers are increasingly frustrated by the lack of political will to implement measures to reduce family hunger.
“Food insecurity is a leading indicator of the economy … it would be great if the government could respond properly, unnecessary delays have caused real suffering,” Schanzenbach said.
At the heart of the frustration is the Food Stamp Program (Snap), a highly effective anti-poverty tool that also benefits the economy. With the increase in hunger, the Trump administration failed to boost Snap, as the Obama administration did during the Great Recession, while continuing to reduce eligibility.
“It’s hard to understand the lack of political will to deal with this when the county is in such a serious situation,” said Ellen Vollinger, legal director of the Center for Food Research and Action. Lawyers have been urging governments for years to increase the real value of food stamps as many recipients turn to food banks because they run out of food in two to three weeks.
Another program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families program, which has delivered more than 110 million boxes of fresh produce to food banks in recent months, will expire by the end of the year. “Less food, more people are hungry,” said Susan King, president of the Northeast Florida Food Bank, who was informed Monday that the system will end this week.
The $ 450 million increase in the federal emergency food aid program for low-income families will also run out.
Even with these programs, some food banks have been forced into wars against Walmart, Costco, and other food chains to buy enough food for those in need. Without government help, “we’re headed for a huge rock in January,” said Erin Pulling, CEO of the Rocky Food Food Bank, which serves Colorado and Wyoming. It is planned to start spending an additional $ 300,000 a month starting next year to partially replace producers ’family produce. Pulling added, “We just can’t serve as many people when this program ends.”
At the same time, national guards called to help pack and distribute food withdrew. “We ask all healthy young people to come out and help,” said Angie Rogers of the Arizona Food Bank Network. “Especially in December, before the Christmas season, we will see the need to act.”
Nearly two-thirds of Feeding America food banks are looking for volunteers.
Nationwide, demand for food aid is about 60% higher than in pre-pandemic times. In some regions of the United States, communities have only just recovered from the enormous effects of the Great Recession, when the coronavirus — and the economic crisis it triggered — has struck.
Even as hopes are set for the introduction of vaccines in the coming months, experts warn that the economic downturn is likely to last much longer and will require systemic changes, not just crisis intervention.
In California’s Silicon Valley, many working families could barely afford the rent before the pandemic. “With the high cost of living here, even federal and local benefits aren’t enough,” said Leslie Bacho, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “Even those who are still working are struggling.”
According to an analysis by a recent Census Bureau survey by the Center for Budget and Political Priorities, almost 20% of adult tenants, 13.4 million people, are currently behind on rents. Black tenants face the greatest difficulties, lagging behind rents by 33%, followed by 24% of Indians.
Mike McDonald, CEO of the Southern Arizona Food Bank, said it is imperative to move from expensive emergency aid – such as food aid – to structural changes such as living and affordable health care that promote economic, food and housing justice. “We need investment in prevention and social maintenance to make people’s lives better and have a real safety net.”
“Hundreds of years of structural racism have exacerbated past inequalities as a result of the pandemic,” said Christina Maxwell, program director at Food Bank Massachusetts. – Communities take an extremely long time to recover. We are not talking about going back to the old normal situation. It must be better than it was. “