Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States in the beginning of 2020, food insecurity rates have been on the rise. With the rise in unemployment rates and increased difficulty in accessing public transportation, more people will face challenges surrounding purchasing and obtaining food for their families. While food insecurity has always plagued our country, the pandemic has illuminated this issue in our local communities and demonstrated a need to help solve disparities in accessing and purchasing food.
Feeding America has conducted research projecting potential scenarios for the increase in food insecurity brought on by the pandemic. According to their data, the already large number of individuals facing food insecurity, estimated at 37 million individuals in 2018, could rise by 17.1 million people, under the worst case scenario. To view their full report published on March 30, visit https://www.feedingamerica.org/research/coronavirus-hunger-research.
The pandemic has also affected communities on the local scale, and Allegheny County, PA is not immune. Research from Feeding America projects that the food insecurity rate in Allegheny County will rise from 10.6% in 2018 to 15.3% in 2020. This drastic increase will add to the effects of malnutrition in our communities and strain our network of food banks. Information about Covid’s effects on other counties throughout the US can be found in Feeding America’s interactive map: https://www.feedingamericaaction.org/the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-food-insecurity/.
Projected growth in food insecurity rates are especially troubling because malnutrition can lead to a multitude of health problems, many of which may increase the severity of Covid-19. Some of these health problems include diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified diabetes and cardiovascular disease as conditions that may increase an individual’s risk of developing a severe illness from Covid-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html). Malnourished individuals are already vulnerable in our society, and now they face the possibility of more severe Covid-19 symptoms, should they contract the virus.
Now more than ever, we need to help our communities fight food insecurity. I urge you to consider donating to local organizations that help fight malnutrition and food insecurity.
Here are few links that can help you find food banks in your local community: