If you want to gauge the state of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, look to food insecurity.
Food insecurity — lack of reliable access to healthy food — is a barometer of stability for individuals, families, and societies at large. It’s a signal of distress. When a person isn’t fed, their chances of escaping poverty are almost nonexistent.
This is partly because hunger leads to poor health outcomes and higher rates of chronic disease, which carries economic consequences. But it’s also because hunger is often one of many challenges that a person is dealing with: It works in tandem with access to housing, educational opportunities, employment status, and more.
As the economy improved over the past decade, food insecurity in New York City had steadily declined. But the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic consequences, has led to a sharp and sustained rise. And New York City is now in a full-blown hunger crisis.
Official estimates show that the number of food-insecure New Yorkers nearly doubled, from 1.2 million to 2 million, over a period of just a few months. Communities of color have been disproportionately affected.
The statistics are staggering:
- 42 percent of New Yorkers have already run out of food or are worried about running out
- 32 percent of New Yorkers turned to a pantry in the past year, up from 12 percent last February.
- 60 percent of New Yorkers who were enrolled in SNAP (food stamps) were also forced to use pantries in July and August.
Read the full article about food insecurity in New York by Raj Borsellino at Robin Hood NYC on Medium.
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