Food Insecurity In The U.S. By The Numbers

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NPR on 09/27/2020 by Christianna Silva

With COVID-19 continuing to spread, and millions of Americans still out of work, one of the nation’s most urgent problems has only grown worse: hunger.

In communities across the country, the lines at food pantries are stretching longer and longer, and there’s no clear end in sight. Before the pandemic, the number of families experiencing food insecurity — defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life — had been steadily falling. But now, as economic instability and a health crisis takes over, new estimates point to some of the worst rates of food insecurity in the United States in years.

“COVID has just wreaked havoc on so many things: on public health, on economic stability and obviously on food insecurity,” said Luis Guardia, the president of the Food, Research and Action Center.

It’s a crisis that’s testing families, communities and the social safety net in ways that may have seemed unthinkable before the pandemic began. Here’s a closer look at the landscape:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 households have experienced food insecurity this year
  • Millions more children are experiencing food insecurity
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to face food insecurity
  • 19 million Americans live in food deserts
  • 38 million people used SNAP in 2019
  • COVID-19 could double the number of people experiencing food insecurity globally

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