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Hunger And The Pandemic Are Surging This Holiday Season

This Thanksgiving, Americans are more food insecure than ever before. The need is getting worse just as assistance programs are ending.
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From The Guardian:

Now, as states across the country contemplate new lockdowns to slow down the rampant spread and record hospitalizations, the unprecedented demand for food aid is on the rise, according to the Guardian’s latest snapshot survey:

  • In Cleveland, 5,000 families showed up last Thursday for the pre-Thanksgiving drive-in distribution compared with 3,300 a week earlier and an average of 1,600 over the summer. Some 54% of the food distributed was for children and seniors. “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.
  • One woman in Cleveland, who didn’t want to be identified, discharged herself from the hospital against medical advice so that she didn’t miss the Thanksgiving food box delivery. “That’s the depth of need and desperation some families are feeling,” added Warzocha.

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration is making a bad situation worse, The Guardian reports. Instead of boosting Snap benefits (food stamps), it cut eligibility. The USDA’s Farmers to Families program expires at the end of the year, as does a $450 million boost to the Emergency Food Assistance Program. “Without government assistance, ‘we’re headed toward a massive cliff come January,’ said Erin Pulling, CEO of the Food Bank for the Rockies which serves Colorado and Wyoming.”

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, correspondent Lisa Desjardins reported the dire statistics:

DESJARDINS: Right now, by one estimate, one out of every four kids in America doesn't know where their next meal will come from. And that could rise. That figure comes from Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger relief organization.

They estimate that, before the pandemic, 35 million Americans of all ages were already living with food insecurity, meaning they couldn't reliably provide enough quality food to everyone in their household.
Now, because of COVID-19, Feeding America forecasts that will skyrocket to more than 50 million people, with the hardest-hit being children and communities of color.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America told Desjardins, “We're seeing an average increase across our network of about 60 percent. Now, embedded inside of that 60 percent would be some of our food banks that have seen as much as a 400 percent increase in need.”

This is yet another tragic result of Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fortunately, future second gentleman Doug Emhoff, has pledged to work on this issue. Wednesday, he and Kamala Harris visited DC Central Kitchen as it prepared 10,000 Thanksgiving meals. Emhoff said about food insecurity, “As I figure out the things I'll be passionate about, this is definitely one of them.”

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