As many of us make another shopping list to get groceries, maybe making sure to hit the minimum purchase for curbside pickup popular during the pandemic, others will wonder how they will continue to eat at all.
The prediction from recent data is that many Minnesotans will see hunger by this fall in numbers and intensity not experienced since the Great Depression.
Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization, released a study done by consulting firm McKinsey and Co. that predicts an additional 275,000 Minnesotans will face food insecurity because of the hit the economy is taking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The price tag to food banks for that increased demand across the state is estimated at $21 million.
The extra federal unemployment benefit expires at the end of July, and Second Harvest is expecting a jump in food aid requests. Food shelves, already bustling before the pandemic, have noticed an increase in demand. That’s not going to fade anytime soon.
So often it is the children who suffer the most when it comes to food shortages. Growing bodies and developing brains need nutritious meals to keep them on track. Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program need additional support during this trying time as well as meal programs that feed children and the elderly year-round.
Food deserts also continue to be a problem, especially for those with limited transportation.
State and federal lawmakers need to do all that they can to make sure government benefits for the hungry are beefed up during this economic crisis. Their constituents need to make the rallying cry for the hungry loud and clear.
And, as always, those who have plenty should consider giving to those who don’t by donating to area food shelves and nonprofits that support the hungry. Most are set up to take online monetary donations, which actually stretches their food supply power because they can buy needed goods through a food bank.
The pandemic and all its repercussions will be with us a long time. The hungry can’t put off eating.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE MANKATO FREE PRESS