Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, was overwhelmed with demand as 20% of the organization’s food banks were at severe risk of running out of food earlier this year.
Demand at food banks has been so high, that Feeding America handed out 4.2 billion meals from March through October, the most ever.
The organization reported a 60% average increase in food bank users during the pandemic – and at least 30% are first-timers.
Data from Feeding America showed 181 food banks in its network distributed nearly 57% more food in the third quarter than the same period in 2019.
Estimates from the food bank suggest 1 in 6 Americans, from 35 million in 2019 to more than 50 million by the end of this year, will have food insecurity problems. The problem is worse for children – nearly 1 in 4 will go hungry as the pandemic deeply scarred the economy.
Shockingly, Feeding America found that 1 in 5 residents in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana could not put food on the table.
AP interviewed Donna Duerr, 56, who said she must “either pay bills or get food.” She said food bank donations have greatly helped her as she struggles to survive.
Many of the folks attending food bank lines are the working poor who once had jobs in the service industry. Because of permanent job loss, many of their jobs will be completely wiped out.