Food Insecurity During a Pandemic
Food insecurity has been defined as, “the lack of consistent access, quality and availability of food for an active, healthy life.” The number of households affected by food insecurity has doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic millions of people, especially children, across America did not have consistent access to adequate amounts of food. The reality is that children in America are at risk of hunger and suffer food insecurity on a regular, often times daily basis. And the repercussions of a global pandemic have only highlighted the harsh realities of food insecurity and increased the number of people dealing daily with its challenges.
Lack of food can lead to psychological stress, poor health outcomes, chronic health conditions and malnutrition – especially for children and seniors. Food insecurity undermines the physical and mental health of everyone it affects and amplifies the health disparities and economic differences for people who were already among our most vulnerable.
There are varying levels of food insecurity:
- High food security – Households had no problem or anxiety about consistently accessing adequate food.
- Marginal food security – Households had problems or anxiety at times about accessing adequate food. However, the quality, variety and quantity of their food were not substantially reduced.
- Low food security – Households reduced the quality, variety and desirability of their diets, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns was not substantially disrupted.
- Very low food security – At times during the year, eating patterns of one or more household members changed or was disrupted and food intake reduced because of household lack of funds or other resources for food.
Where To Find Help
There are resources available that can help. If you’ve never applied for assistance before, the process may feel overwhelming. Here are some resources to help you understand the qualification process and how to begin the process.
Call the USDA’s National Hunger Hotline for information about emergency food providers in your community, government assistance programs and social services for which you may be eligible. The Hunger Hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY.
There’s no shame in needing a little extra support. The following organizations provide hunger relief and food assistance:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Feeding America Food Banks
- Meals on Wheels
- Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
You can also find nutritious foods and recipes on a budget at FoodHero.org.