Millions Going Hungry

I have a friend who took a cruise last winter, got Covid-19, and was in the hospital in very serious condition for five months. Many people still don’t believe the pandemic is real – or – that it produces the catastrophic effects reported, as many of their friends test positive but are without any symptoms … so why wear masks?  Many of us have to experience a problem before its reality hits home and we take action.

I believe the biggest threat to sustainability is food – its availability and our ability to pay for it. We read about hunger in some far off land, “but that’s over there.”  We might even read about hunger in “developed countries”, including the U.S., “but no one I know is starving to death.”  As with the pandemic, many don’t believe that with all our modern agricultural systems, hunger could “possibly happen to me.”

As with Covid-19, it’s best if we take safer, less costly preventive measures. Here’s information about growing hunger, then suggestions afterwards.

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US news:

Millions go hungry as America reels from pandemic’s effects

 

Community groups say widespread unemployment

has driven surge in hunger – and the holiday

week presents another challenge

 

Victoria Bekiempis

The Guardian

24 Dec 2020

 

As winter holidays approach, many Americans won’t just miss out on celebratory meals because of isolation forced on them by the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead millions of people in the US will go literally hungry due to the deep economic crisis gripping the country.

Tens of millions of Americans have long faced hunger, but the pandemic, which has left more than 323,000 dead in America and devastated the economy, has worsened lack of access to sufficient food.

At least 35 million people faced hunger in the US before Covid-19. That figure includes more than 10 million children, according to Feeding America. But in 2020, more than 50 million might struggle with hunger. Among them: 17 million children.

Bryan Singleton, executive director of Action Pact, a social services organization that operates five food banks in rural Georgia, said the need for food assistance has “quadrupled” since Covid-19 hit. He said:

 

“We’ve had food distributions where we’ve

literally had hundreds of vehicles lined up

to get food. We live in a food desert anyway;

we’re a very rural area. It was just exagger-

ating what we experience on a normal basis.

 

“We do food drives each year to stock up our

shelves; we’ve had to completely abandon

those because of the pandemic, because of

the scarcity of the food. We’ve had to aban-

don those just because the need was so great.”

 

Singleton said that the surge in need stemmed from sudden, widespread unemployment that came in the wake of Covid-19 business closures and slowdowns. He explained …

 

“These weren’t our traditional clientele.

These were folks who a week or two

before had jobs and never had the

need for our services.”

 

The holiday week presents another challenge. Some places which provide food will be closed for a day or two. Singleton said that Action Pact has been working with local organizations and churches to ensure that people who need food this week can still get help.

Rafael Tapia Jr., vice-president of programs for the Partnership With Native Americans, said that food insecurity has long been a problem in indigenous communities, remarking:

 

“These are not new issues.”

 

One in four people in Native American communities faces food insecurity – about twice as much as other communities. Tapia said …

 

“Covid has brought more attention to,

escalated, and intensified food insecurity.”

 

New York City, which was the US center of Covid-19 this spring, is also reeling from widespread hunger.

Leslie Gordon, Food Bank For New York City’s president and CEO, said in a statement Tuesday that the new Covid-19 relief package – which includes a temporary 15% increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and money for emergency food initiatives – will provide some relief, but that long-term aid is much-needed. Gordon said …

 

“This legislation will help millions of

Americans at this critical time, and it

represents a step in the right direction.

At the same time, we still have so much

work to do so our low-income neighbors

can put a warm meal on the table.”

 

The statement said …

 

“Food insecurity has surged since the on-

set of the pandemic – since the start of the

outbreak alone, Food Bank For New York

City has distributed more than 77 million

meals to New Yorkers in need, a 70% increase

over last year. Comprehensive, long-term

relief is critical to protecting low-income

communities and rebuilding this country.”

 

Heber Brown III, senior pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, launched the Black Church Food Security Network in 2015 to fight “food apartheid” – the layers of factors that contribute to food insecurity in long-marginalized communities. Brown said …

 

“This year in particular, the challenges

have been in some ways very familiar,

and in some ways demanded a

different level of attention.”

 

Not only did the pandemic increase food insecurity – restrictions on social gatherings prevented traditional outreach at places such as churches, he said.

The network’s Black-church supported agriculture program, which facilitates bulk purchases of produce by Black churches from Black farmers, was launched this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brown said the crisis attests to how initiatives like the network’s efforts – which include using Black church assets, such as land that can be farmed, to sourcing community kitchens – can potentially create a nimble, stable community-based food system. He said …

 

“If one virus could shut down all these

anchor systems of our community, we

need to have other systems as well.

We’ve always been this vulnerable,

but this virus just proved it.”

 

•      •      •     •      •      •

As I seem to be doing more frequently, I again asked D, the non-physical entity my wife channels, for its perspective.

 

“This pandemic is showing the cracks in many systems in the U.S. and other countries. One of the cracks is health care. Another is food. Many people who were strong middle class workers have found themselves without work. Rent or mortgages, utilities, and food still need to be paid. As many have very little in reserve, food is the last item receiving attention. 

“People often begin by cutting back on the amount of food. And then all of a sudden there’s not enough. The result has been a rush to food banks and food kitchens. It is hard to believe in a country with so much wealth that so many go hungry. Since the 1970s, there has been a widening gap between the haves and have-nots. Food insecurity is a result of that gap. 

“During the pandemic, most public corporations have done quite well, as seen in the rise of the stock market. And yet, most corporations have let go of staff, so the corporations remain string, but many of their workers flounder. We would love to see a system where minimum wage is raised so that it becomes a living wage for all. But that is probably in the future. In the meantime, please support your local food banks or food kitchens – with financial contributions or food – to help those who are in difficult times. 

“Right now, there is enough food produced. But some food rots in the fields because they can’t find the labor. And some milk is dumped on the ground because the distribution system isn’t working. And while the problem begins with lower income people, it’s already spreading to middle class and even upper middle class people. Like the pandemic, don’t pretend ‘It’ll never happen to me.’”

 

The only thoughts I’d add …

A lot of TV ads show couch-potatoes devouring snack foods, while other ads show exercise machines and weigh loss programs! We can get all the calories we need with foods that are less expensive and just as flavorful.  And we may need to differentiate between foods that provide the nutritional value we need from the snack foods that add little to our health … as they deplete our financial resources for food!

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