Millions of Americans going hungry as the pandemic erodes incomes

A study from Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Studies found that the pandemic roughly doubled food insecurity in the United States. Food assistance nonprofit Feeding America estimates that with household finances decimated by the coronavirus, around 40 percent of people visiting food banks are first-time recipients of food assistance.

“The demand is unprecedented and unlike any challenge that we’ve faced in food bank history in the United States. We’ve really never seen the level of need that we’re seeing now, and having seen it come about as quickly as it’s come about, it’s been a real shock,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer at Feeding America. “It’s been a perfect storm in that the demand has been unprecedented and the supply of food has been pretty significantly disrupted.”

“It’s just a mad dash to make sure nobody’s going hungry during COVID,” said Christopher Robertson, director of Market to HOPE, a food pantry that operates within Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas. “The folks we’re seeing now are new people. A little less than half of the people who came in during the month of June were brand new people,” he said.

Families, seniors and communities of color have been hit especially hard, experts say.