Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – As cornavirus cases continue to spike in many areas, workers face more food insecurity issues. “Until we get some stability in the virus spread, we are going to see an uneven ebb and flow in food supplies,” said Eugene Ney, an adjunct lecturer in business management at Carlow University.
Before the coronavirus, the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank was distributing millions of meals with the help of 6,000 volunteers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 37 million food-insecure Americans – 11 million of whom are children.
Jim Reese of Greensburg, a retired carpenter, said he is struggling to feed his family of six. “We are watering down the milk and cereal,” Reese said. And most food banks are stretched for resources with demand doubling monthly.
Current data on rising food insecurity during the pandemic and deep economic crisis reveal how widespread the hardship is becoming, according to Bryan Gulish of the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. There are calls now for raising the maximum SNAP (food stamp) benefits and fixing SNAP limitations in the relief measures enacted thus far.
Nearly a third of non-elderly adults reported that their families spent less on food in the last month, according to a survey by the Urban Institute, with responses from late March and early April. That number rises to 46.5 percent among adults in families that experienced job or income loss. And it’s making it harder for families to get enough to eat: food insecurity is spiking, particularly among working families with children.
Nearly 23 percent of households said the food they bought “just didn’t last” and they didn’t have the money to buy more, according to a national survey from late May. That compares to about 12 percent of households in 2018 and 16 percent during the worst point of the Great Recession.
As a result of the pandemic, 1 in 5 mothers of young children reported that their children weren’t eating enough – a level five times higher than in 2018 – because they couldn’t afford enough food, according to a nationally representative survey from late May. Many families are skipping meals or eat less themselves so their children have enough food.
Experts say workers should not be afraid to ask for help. The following organizations provide hunger and food relief:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – a federal program that provides nutrition benefits that can be used to purchase food.
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income women with children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.
- Feeding America Food Banks – a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs nationwide.
- Meals on Wheels – a program that delivers nutritious meals to seniors free of charge.
- Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)- a federal program that provides free meals to school children while school is not in session.