Noreen Springstead, executive director, WhyHunger, issued the following statement regarding the newest unemployment numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
“Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment, adding to the 3.3 million who filed the previous week. This astronomical increase in unemployment is a strong indicator that an equally staggering rise in food insecurity will quickly follow.
Food banks and food pantries are not going to be able to absorb this increased level of need. Compounding factors triggered by the COVID-19 crisis – increased demand, shortage of volunteers, reduced hours and difficulties in distribution – are now pushing emergency food providers to the brink. We are hearing from our partners across the country that many pantries and food banks are not sure how long they will be able to remain open. Our WhyHunger Hotline is ringing off the hook with calls from families, seniors and people who’ve never experienced hunger before, now desperate to get access to food.
With our emergency food system pushed to its limits, the true extent of the problem is coming to light. This crisis further exposes the link between economic inequity and food insecurity and underscores the need for our government to protect the basic human right to nutritious food. It’s essential that our government takes action now to increase the amount of SNAP benefits available to individuals and families, increase the pool of funding and issue Disaster SNAP to accommodate the rise in applications that is sure to follow this growing unemployment rate. We can no longer think of SNAP as a ‘supplemental’ benefit.”
WhyHunger has established a Rapid Response Fund to provide emergency support and critical relief for food banks and pantries struggling to meet rising demand and adapt distribution to protect their staff and communities; small farmers preparing to ramp up local food production to ensure access to nutritious food; restaurant and food chain workers facing unprecedented economic hardship; and WhyHunger’s national Find Food Database, Texting service and Hotline connecting seniors, children, veterans, hourly workers and families impacted by hunger, illness and forced unemployment with free, local food and essential services. The WhyHunger Find Food Database and Hotline are open and available to those looking for support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit whyhunger.org/find food, text your zip code to 1-800-548-6479 or Call 1(800) 5-HUNGRY to locate a local emergency food provider and other support services.
Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres, WhyHunger believes a world without hunger is possible. We provide critical resources to support grassroots movements and fuel community solutions rooted in social, environmental, racial and economic justice. A four-star rated charity by Charity Navigator, WhyHunger is working to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more at whyhunger.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.