It’s no surprise that food insecurity has increased exponentially during this global pandemic. The United Nations World Food Program Mass warned that an estimated 265 million people could face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020, up from 135 million people before the crisis. Almost double.
The National Institute for Health Care Management reports that food insecurity in American households has arisen from 11% to 38% during COVID-19. Many are children. Some households are experiencing food insecurity for the very first time.
This spring, according to a June 16 article in U.S. News and World Report, as parents across the country lost their jobs and schools closed their doors, the number of households with children who weren’t getting enough food due to a lack of resources surged. In April, about 41% of mothers with children under 13 reported recent food insecurity, the highest level since 2001, according to an analysis of survey data from the Brookings Institution. Food insecurity is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and other illnesses, as well as a lack of concentration and focus in school. This is exacerbated by remote learning thrust upon families during the pandemic.
School lunch programs did continue in new ways. Backpack programs locally were suspended, and now, school lunch programs are over. There are summer food programs for youth 18 and under which will start up shortly.
Rachel’s Table is supporting our Pioneer Valley youth during this time through our Kalicka shelf-stable milk program, adding another farm-fresh milk program, and purchasing Big Y and Stop & Shop gift cards for local families through an all-new Feeding Our Families program. These cards will be distributed to families by Square One, a local pre-school and childcare program in Springfield, and the Springfield Public School system. This is just a beginning. Our work with youth and families will grow as the pandemic continues to shift the nature of our life as we know it.
We are here to help! Join us.