Move For Hunger, like the rest of the world, has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 Pandemic. These are difficult and uncertain times, but there is no question that this crisis will have a significant impact on people who are struggling with food insecurity.
We remain committed to our mission and will continue to find ways to rescue food and provide meals for those in need, but the safety of our staff and our network is also a priority. For now, we will do whatever we can to provide transportation assistance to help food banks and pantries in the United States and Canada meet the heightened demand they are sure to face. The scope of the crisis, however, is going to require a long-term response, and we are determined to see it through.
The Impact on People Who are Facing Hunger
Twenty-nine million children receive free or reduced cost meals through the National School Lunch Program. Families rely on those meals and they may no longer have access to breakfast and/or lunch, as schools around the country are closing for several weeks to prevent the spread of the virus. Although some districts developing alternative ways to distribute food, it will still be a massive disruption to lives of millions of low-income families.
For families with children who cannot care for themselves, things will be even more difficult. Although companies around the country have been encouraging or mandating that their employees work from home, there are still millions of families who do not have that option. If schools are closed, parents of young children or those with disabilities may be forced to stay home and forgo a paycheck.
As large events are canceled, as bars/restaurants are closed, and people are encouraged to stay home, those who work in the service sector will be disproportionately impacted. Senior citizens, as most of us are aware by now, face the highest risk from COVID-19. Nearly 9 million senior citizens are already food insecure, but even those who can afford enough food may be hesitant to leave the house to go shopping. And the 500,000+ people who are experiencing homelessness every night, not to mention those who are housing insecure, may not have a safe place to say, let alone self quarantine.
The Impact on Food Banks
Food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters are on the front lines, helping our most vulnerable populations every day. Many of these organizations are non-profits, like Move For Hunger, operate on tight budgets, and depend on volunteers to provide for those in need. They have a difficult job, and it is not going to get any easier in the days and weeks ahead.
The economy is currently volatile, which will cause businesses and individual donors to reevaluate how much they are able to give. As consumers head to the stores to stock up on food and other necessities, the shocks to the supply chain could leave less food and supplies available to emergency providers. And, with social distancing being the primary tool in fighting the spread of the virus, it will become more difficult to organize food drives and find volunteers to distribute food.
What Can You Do Right Now?
- Follow the CDC's recommendations: Wash your hands, don't touch your face, and stay home if you can. The most important thing we all can do is to take steps to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.
- Donate: Although we are facing a time of uncertainty right now, your support will allow us to be better prepared to collaborate with our food banking partners in the weeks and months ahead.
- Advocate: In solidarity with the rest of our partners from the Alliance to End Hunger, we encourage you to contact your Senators and ask them to vote yes on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation includes funding for initiatives that will strengthen nutrition programs like SNAP, school meals, and provides support to food banks. Click here to connect with your Senators.
The COVID-19 Pandemic is going to have a massive economic impact and will drastically increase the need for emergency food assistance nationwide. Move For Hunger is actively searching for ways to meet the demand, but we're going to need your help.
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