The Covid-19 pandemic running roughshod over the United States has led to massive unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. Now, as we enter the holiday season, the unwillingness of leaders in Washington to act is causing American families with children could go hungry at a rate of one in six.
Pre-pandemic, the poverty rate was already too high given that the United States of America is the richest country in the history of the world. In my opinion, any rate over zero is a failure. The rise in the number of American families not knowing where their next meal is going to come from is both shocking and completely avoidable.
The alarming trend in hunger across the country is being documented by the Washington Post and National Geographic. The largest hunger relief organization in the U.S., Feeding America, reveals that more than 50 million people will experience food insecurity by the end of the year. Among American children, the figure rises to one in four.
Just as troublesome, a recent U.S. Census Bureau pandemic survey found that only 44% of American families with children are “very confident” that they can afford to buy food in the following month. Anyone looking at these numbers without prior knowledge of their origin would think I’m describing any third world country. The reality is a Rolls Royce in line at a drive-in food bank is becoming a common sight.
As always, minorities are suffering the most. Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans are being disproportionately impacted by the hunger crisis. American households with children among the minority population are going hungry at twice the rate as Whites.
Emily Engelhard, managing director of Feeding America’s research unit, told National Geographic that, “The populations and geographies that started in the most disadvantageous state of food insecurity are the ones that are getting hit the hardest.”
Family emergency funds are drying up. Unemployment funds are expiring. Any additional government help has long since disappeared. The distribution of food at food banks across much of the country have doubled and sometimes tripled since the pandemic began.
People are becoming desperate and the reality of the hunger crisis is impossible to hide. There are an endless number of pictures and video footage that have captured the long winding lines of cars in parking lots and highways waiting to pick up a little something to eat at a make-shift food bank. Those food banks sometimes take the form of a sports stadium.
With the coronavirus getting worse, and expecting to skyrocket even more following Thanksgiving weekend, the demand for food aid in not letting up and will no doubt rise as well. Unfortunately, the funds are not going to keep up with the demand and food bank volunteers are anticipating the worst.
Without a substantial response on the federal level, the situation looks as bleak as it can get. While many politicians in Washington like Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are seen to be playing political games with American lives, there are some progressive representatives that have been speaking out for months, warning of the calamity that American Families with children now face.
Rep. Ro Khanna of California is one of those voices and he has not relented. He tweeted a few days ago: “We’re facing an unprecedented hunger crisis in America. 26 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, are going hungry. In the richest nation in the world, that’s unconscionable. Congress has the power to address this crisis. Why aren’t we doing it?”
Toward the end of the summer, Ro Khanna and Andrew Yang were the only people calling on Pelosi to accept McConnell’s stimulus package and force Republicans to vote on it. It never happened. Now the country is going hungry at levels not seen in generations. The worst part is, it’s going to get a lot worse.