The new year would be a good time for churches and individuals to step up to help feed the hungry. Less than half of households with kids in the United State are “very confident” they can afford food over the next four weeks, while 5.6 million households with children report doubts about their food security in the last seven days, according to new census survey data.
Joseph Llobrera, director of research at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute, said unless policymakers immediately provide strong economic relief, “widespread food hardship that continues into the holiday season appears likely.”’
Those living in states with ongoing lockdown restrictions such as California, New York and Pennsylvania are more likely to be fearful of the lack of food. Across the nation, including in Missouri where unemployment has now dropped to just 4.4%, policies that have avoided widespread lockdowns have resulted in fewer cases of food insecurity. Some recent studies, such as in California, have found lockdowns have had no substantial effect on reducing the spread of Covid.
“Delay can be costly, as food insecurity among children can have long-lasting negative consequences,” he said. “For infants and young children, the lack of access to good nutrition can lead directly to poorer lifelong outcomes. School-aged children who don’t get enough to eat may have more difficulty learning in school, which can translate to lower high school completion rates and lower earnings potential.”
The data show that in the United States, 12 percent of households with children reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the previous seven days. Nine percent of households with children reported that they are “not at all confident” that they will be able to afford the kinds of food they need for the next four weeks while 56 percent reported that they are less than “very confident.” This means they are only “moderately,” “somewhat” or “not at all” confident that they will be able to afford the kinds of food they need for the next four weeks.
The data also showed that amid the pandemic, households aren’t worried only about food.
“More than 4 in 10 children live in households that are struggling to cover such basic costs as food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, or student loans,” Llobrera said, pointing to negative outcomes associated with the psychological impact of multiple stressors on households.
A recent analysis by “The Washington Post” also showed that more Americans are now going hungry than at any point during the coronavirus pandemic.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice