The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy, leaving many people who had been comfortable suddenly struggling financially. Feeding America estimates that at least 60 million people in the United States needed the assistance of food banks in 2020, about a 55% increase over normal numbers. Though things have slowly improved, there are still many people struggling.
Despite economic gains and lower unemployment, 42 million people were projected to be food insecure in 2021. That figure includes 13 million children, or about 1 in 6 children throughout the United States. The numbers are also quite high for members of the Black community, with about 1 in 5 projected to struggle with food insecurity this year. Additionally, Feeding America says that many people who were already having issues putting food on the table before the pandemic are in even worse shape now.
That’s why this Giving Tuesday, Greater Good Charities is working to distribute food essentials to those in need. That includes families, veterans, seniors, and children who could all use a helping hand. To address other needs, there will also be backpacks distributed, with necessities including blankets, clothing, reusable water bottles, and basic hygiene products. To ensure as many people as possible are helped, 100% of donations to this effort will go directly to charity.
Donations throughout the pandemic have been essential for many food banks working to keep up with increasing demand. That includes Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, Ohio, which received funding through GreaterGood’s Feed Thy Neighbor campaign. With your help, they were able to get food to school pantry programs serving 45 schools in the area.
Glenwood Junior High School in Boardman, Ohio, was one of the beneficiaries. Their pantry provided students and their families with food throughout the entire pandemic. Brad Calhoun, a teacher for more than 30 years, packed food boxes and often delivered them, as well. He witnessed so much need over the past year and half.
He said, “One seventh grade boy comes from an extended family where there are nine people in the house – grandparents, aunts, uncles and kids. Unfortunately, we have more students from families who need food assistance than at any time in my entire career.”
Guidance counselor Mindy DePietro says that in addition to shelf-table food, the Second Harvest Food Bank provides the pantry with fresh produce for students when it’s available. Community support helps them distribute turkeys during the holidays, as well.
Three Square in Southern Nevada was also able to provide food to those in the community hit hardest by the pandemic. That included Johnathan, who has a household of seven to support but found himself out of work for the first time in his life as COVID-19 struck.
He said, “I’ve been going to these distributions for two months now. I started going when they let me go from work due to the coronavirus. This source has allowed me to bring food home for my family. This is the first time I’ve asked for any type of help. I’ve always worked two jobs for the past 14 years, but nothing like this has ever happened before. No one expected this.”
Others that didn’t expect the impacts of the pandemic were restaurants, which struggled to stay afloat without dine-in eating for much of 2020. Through the Feed Thy Neighbor collaboration, World Central Kitchen was able to tackle the issue of food insecurity while supporting those struggling restaurants.
Fratelli in The Bronx was one such business. Through the partnership with WCK, the restaurant was able to prepare more than 11,000 meals.
The owner, Eddie, said, “When the pandemic hit, I didn’t know if we were going to make it. We have been here for 28 years, and never have I thought we were going to close these doors. But the pandemic shook us.”
Getting the chance to help the community was so important for him. He explained, “Food is my life! It’s all I’ve ever done, it’s my passion! It’s a privilege and an honor to feed those who are hungry.”
Thanks to you, these stories were made possible. If you’re planning to help those in need this Giving Tuesday, consider a donation to help more struggling Americans keep going during these still uncertain times. Find out more at the link below.