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Food Insecurity and COVID-19

Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. And while food insecurity is something most associated with poverty, the truth is it can affect anyone. Common causes that lead to food insecurity include job loss, lack of transportation, living in a food desert, medical bills, and countless other reasons aside from income alone. As of 2018, 1 in 8 Americans were considered food insecure. According to Feeding America, food insecurity can be found in every single county across the United States, and due to the onset of COVID-19 and the increasing unemployment rate, the need for food continues to grow at an alarming pace. Feeding America estimates that more than 54.3 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19.  

Projected rates of food insecurity among the overall population in 2020 by state.

While the number of food insecure persons varies from region to region around the country, rates have consistently been highest in the South. Since the March tornado that affected Davidson, Wilson, and Putnam counties and the swift rise of COVID-19 thereafter, we have seen an exponential increase in need throughout our service area; which is only compounded by the rates of our geographical position. Overall, there has been a 44% percent increase in the total number of food insecure persons in our service area since the onset of COVID-19, with Davidson and surrounding counties seeing the highest increase: between 43 and 84 percent. According to Feeding America’s May 2020 brief on the impact of COVID-19 on local food insecurity, Tennessee will fall into the range of 18-19 percent of its overall population being classified as food insecure.

An increase in food insecure people means increased food distribution through Second Harvest and its Partner Agencies. Since March 2020, the number of meals distributed throughout our service area increased an average of 37 percent each month. This equates to roughly 4.25 million meals over our anticipated distribution numbers for March through June alone. 

We may not know what the future holds or where this uncertainly will lead us, but we know the need is there and continues to grow, and we will be here to provide. Thank you for the work you do, we appreciate you!

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