What We Can Learn From the Pandemic To Close the Nutrition Gap
Healthy Food Community of Practice Advisory Team, posted on
During times of crisis throughout the United States history, there are stories of people coming together and finding innovative ways to meet urgent needs. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the lives of many people upside down and laid bare deeply rooted inequities that plague our nation. While it is too soon to say exactly how future generations will reflect on our country’s response to the pandemic, to us, a bright spot has been the dedication, mobilization, and innovation of a diverse range of organizations that have worked tirelessly this past year to ensure that everyone who needs food and nutrition assistance receives it. We celebrate the successes we’ve seen in getting nutritious, culturally appropriate food and services to people who need it, and we call on policymakers and funders to take action to address food and nutrition insecurity in this country for the long term.
When the pandemic reached the U.S., it caused immediate economic impacts that led to a significant increase in the number of people needing nutrition assistance. In September 2020, according to Census data, 10% of adults said their household didn’t have enough to eat in the past seven days, up from 3.4% in all of 2019. The economic fallout brought on by the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. For example, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Latinos were already experiencing higher food-insecurity rates than the general population and the number of Hispanic households with children not having enough food to eat has steadily increased since the start of the pandemic, topping out at 21% in November 2020. At the same time as this spike in demand, social distancing requirements created severe disruptions to the ways in which assistance programs supported families to access and consume healthy food.