Last year, over 38.2 million Americans struggled with food insecurity at some point, compared to 35.2 million in 2019. This 9% surge shows just how much the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of millions.
The report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says food security—access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life—is one of several conditions necessary for a population to be healthy and well nourished.
Of those 38.2 million Americans, 11.7 million were children which is also a 9% surge compared to 10.7 million in 2019.
According to Common Dreams, progressive advocates emphasized that hunger, which already affected millions of people in the world’s richest nation well before 2020, would have grown even more severe in the U.S. last year had Congress not allocated billions of dollars to fund anti-poverty measures in response to the coronavirus crisis.
“The new federal data tells us two things: First, while hunger was already a massive, systemic problem in all 50 states before Covid-19 hit the U.S., domestic hunger surged during the pandemic. Second, while tens of millions of Americans suffered mightily from food hardship in 2020—and are still suffering mightily—the nation avoided mass starvation mostly because the federal government stepped in to dramatically increase food and cash aid. This safety net was a giant food life preserver,” says Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America.
Berg added that the pandemic is far from over and aid to hurting families needs to continue.
While the Biden administration approved the largest expansion of food benefits the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has ever seen, “transformational change” still needs to be a focus.