SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A new report shows that half of American families are suffering from food insecurity.
No Kid Hungry released The Longest Summer: Childhood Hunger in the Wake of the Coronavirus, a new report that shows how families across the nation are coping with the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“Before coronavirus hit, we were seeing a lot of progress — about a decade’s worth of progress — against childhood hunger,” No Kid Hungry Associate Director Eleni Towns said.
“Really about half of American families reported skipping meals so their kids could eat. The pandemic is having a serious impact on families’ ability to eat nutritious food,” she added.
No Kid Hungry says the pandemic has forced many families to make sacrifices to afford enough food, including parents skipping meals (51%), making meals with limited options (66%), and skipping other bills like utilities or rent in order to afford food (39%).
“Hunger has a significant impact on a child’s ability to focus and to be successful within the classroom,” Towns said. “We know that will extend into the virtual classroom as well.”
Seventy-five percent of parents said COVID-19 made them realize how important school meals are to feeding their family. Their data also reveals 69 percent of schools seeing an increase in meal program participation since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
The report also found essential workers make up the majority of food-insecure households.
Pandemic EBT was created in response to the coronavirus outbreak and works alongside the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide families with the funds they need to buy groceries. In Georgia, it’s available for families through Sept. 25.
As coronavirus cases have spiked in many districts, families need more access to resources available to them, to blend school meals, emergency food, and benefits like SNAP to feed their children.
“Given the high rates of food insecurity, we know this is a very valuable resource. So I think those paired with school meals will make sure families have the resources they need to feed their kids,” Towns said.
She says before the pandemic, summer was already a hard time for families struggling to feed their kids, with schools closed and school meals gone. But states like Georgia show promise in helping families get the support they need through the economic downturn.
Thirty million meals were distributed in Georgia beginning in March by sending them on busses and creating grab-and-go events to make sure families had access to meals.
“The school districts did an amazing job,” she said. “And we’re really seeing that across the state in huge districts and in tiny districts the level of commitment and creativity and innovation that districts have displayed is really inspiring.”