Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, child food insecurity has become a growing issue across the globe. With schools closing and stay-at-home orders in place, countless children are going without enough meals. To combat this issue, we need all hands on deck.
Luckily, efforts have already been made to expand children’s access to food during the pandemic. Of these efforts, the Atlanta-based cold food storage and transportation company Americold has donated $100,000 to its partner Feed the Children and already transported 84,000 pounds of food on behalf of the non-profit. Here’s what these numbers mean in terms of tackling child food insecurity — and what to expect in the coming weeks.
Child food insecurity may reach all-time highs during the Covid-19 pandemic
According to a new study by Feeding America, 18 million American children may be at risk of food insecurity this year. This amounts to about 1 in every 4 children — an alarming number.
While this projection accounts for one of the worse-case scenarios, present circumstances are not much better. Recent analysis from the Hamilton Project claims that 34.5% of American households including minors were food insecure in late April.
Research at Northwestern University has even harsher estimates. They conjecture that “food insecurity doubled overall and tripled among those with children” during April. Overall, this adds up to one scary problem for the U.S.
Food insecurity hits paycheck-to-paycheck families hardest
“We are seeing food insecurity hit families who were skating by living paycheck-to-paycheck, and now they are at a loss on where to turn,” a spokesperson at Feed the Children told theRising last week.
“Many families who have never needed our help before, need it now,” they added.
Yet although the pandemic has certainly worsened the problem, child food insecurity was at dangerous levels even before the coronavirus hit. Based on the USDA’s 2018 report on the issue, 11.2 million children lacked a steady and nutritious food supply pre-pandemic.
Americold’s donation will help “hundreds of thousands of families”
To combat this systemic issue, we need systematic change, including better infrastructure and funding. Yet this challenge will only become more pronounced due to social distancing constraints. Accordingly, we must adapt and find new, safer methods of delivering food to children in need.
Of these methods, Americold has already pursued immediate financial relief and helped with food transportation. In particular, its $100,000 donation to Feed the Children “was intended to provide immediate resources for Feed the Children [in response] to the rapidly changing dynamics of COVID-19,” Americold President and CEO Fred Boehler tells us.
A Feed the Children spokesperson told us this added funding will allow them to reach “hundreds of thousands of families across the U.S.”
Donations have limited impact, on-the-ground support necessary
But financial donations have their limits. Sometimes, on-the-ground support can be more promising. Americold’s commitment to offering their transportation and food storage services has therefore also aided in Feed the Children’s mission.
They have already transported 480 truckloads of food and supplies to families in need, according to Feed the Children. And among the company’s 160+ sites, some have even organized local food banks to further alleviate hunger.
Covid-19 making it harder to tackle child food insecurity
While these efforts suggest progress for tackling child food insecurity in the U.S., Covid-19 has nonetheless added additional challenges.
Specifically, protecting public health requires strict social distancing across the U.S. Yet to supply meals to thousands of families each day, following social distancing rules is incredibly difficult.
“Eighty percent of our standard domestic work involves supplying community partners (like food pantries and soup kitchens) with the items they need to support their daily initiatives,” the company noted.
Looking at the sheer reach of select non-profits, following social distancing standards and delivering food at efficient rates will require creative solutions.
In terms of safety, transportation most likely exhibits a lower risk of virus transactions, as opposed to direct food delivery. Nonetheless, both steps require intense precautions to avoid virus exposure. Among these precautions, Feed the Children shared some of its new approaches.
“The organizations we’re working with have delivered food and daily household essentials in a variety of ways including door-to-door, by holding drive-through events and some even had call-in numbers for individuals to request these items,” they said.