The lines at food banks across the country have been staggering. That there are lines at all is both frightening and heartbreaking. Some waited in their car in miles-long lines in excess of 6 hours. To feed their families. Fear is high, nerves are frayed. Having the National Guard providing assistance in some locations no doubt helped maintain order. As just one example, San Antonio’s food bank reported serving nearly 12,000 families last Thursday alone.
The newfound demand on food banks in our country to feed those most in need has become international news. This is how it was reported in the United Kingdom.¹ So much for us being the greatest nation on Earth.
According to Feeding America, a non-profit organization devoted to helping provide food to those who cannot do so for themselves, an additional 17 million Americans face hunger as a direct outcome of work stoppage and/or job loss to fight the coronavirus. This is in addition to the 37 million people for whom it is already a reality, including 11 million children and 5.4 million seniors.²
And make no mistake: the desperate reliance on food banks is occurring now in every city in our country. At this very moment, regardless of when you are reading this, people are in line to get food for themselves and their families. Others are having sleepless nights wondering how to feed their children.
For many in line, this is their first trip to a food bank³, even though a study by the Federal Reserve found that four out of ten American adults do not have the savings or resources to cover an unexpected $400 expense.⁴ The study was conducted in 2018. The reality now, with widespread unemployment, is undoubtedly significantly worse.
The novel coronavirus did not create hunger, of course. It has only exacerbated a bad and, frankly, embarrassing situation. The plight of a significant segment of our population — school-aged children who rely on their school for food — was a topic of The Monday Minute (or two) in February 2019⁵. In that article, we cited shocking data from the Nationwide School Nutrition Association⁶ that illustrated the enormity of the problem. According to their findings, during every school day across the United States:
- 12.4 million children receive either a free or reduced-cost breakfast, and
- 22.0 million children receive either a free or reduced-cost lunch.
Thankfully, many school districts across the country have continued to prepare take-away meals for school-aged children during the pandemic, regardless of whether they attend school or not. Even so, the number of hungry people in this country continues to grow exponentially as the shutter-in-place continues.
With over 200 affiliates, Feeding America is the largest network of food banks in the country. Given the dramatic influx of new customers, the organization is projecting a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has pledged a donation of $100 million. It is Feeding America’s single largest donation, but it is still insufficient to fund its far-reaching and desperately-needed program.
That’s where we come in.
Assuming you haven’t already donated the $100 million you have lying around the house, likely between the cushions of your couch, consider a more modest donation to Feeding America and/or your local food bank. Maybe $25? More if you can afford it. The website (https://www.feedingamerica.org) makes it easy. If you prefer, the site will help you find a local food bank, one serving your community. Any amount will help them continue to feed the millions in need. The work they, their patrons and their volunteers are doing is nothing short of heroic. And, of course, lifesaving. What they need most is our money.
The reliance on food banks will only increase as more jobs are lost, work stoppages extend, and the reopening of the country stalls — or worse, suffers a major setback — due to insufficient testing; the lack of a rigorous, comprehensive plan; and the already-occurring decay of a widespread fortitude to execute safeguards (e.g., physical distancing, masks, hand washing) with patience, diligence and precision.
I hope you can find it in your heart and your bank account to support Feeding America and/or your local food back. Let’s give them, and those hungry, our hand.