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Food insecurity hits millions of Americans for the holidays

Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 9:00 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - This holiday season will be a difficult one for millions of Americans. With the COVID-19 pandemic came widespread job insecurity, and then food insecurity for many. Food bank workers have never seen anything like this.

“What we’ve really seen is a lot of new clients,” said Jocelyn Lantrip, marketing director at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada in Reno. “People have never asked for food before, never been in this situation before. They really are not sure how to navigate getting help.”

Lantrip says 2020 saw historically long lines signaling skyrocketing food insecurity brought on by the pandemic. Lantrip says many people were hungry before COVID-19 came to Nevada.

“We saw an immediate increase in March and April,” said Lantrip.

Nevada’s pandemic-induced shut down crippled its tourism-reliant economy. April became the busiest month ever for Lantrip’s food bank. Eight months later, demand remains sky-high for the holidays.

“Our biggest concern is making sure we have the resources to be there for those family for months and months...maybe years,” said Lantrip.

In addition to handling the uptick in food insecurity, food banks have also been forced to change how they distribute the food because of health guidelines. Zuani Villarreal from Feeding America says her organization is being pushed to the limit.

“It’s not something that we’ve ever faced before. We’ve seen a lot of people that used to be volunteers that are now in line getting food from food banks,” said Villareal.

Villarreal says 80 percent of their roughly 200 food banks across the country are still seeing increased demand. The nature of the pandemic cut their volunteer supply. She says they need government assistance to ease some of the burden. But no matter how stretched resources are, Villarreal is pleading with people to get help if they need it.

“Please contact your local food bank. You are not alone. There are millions of families...it could be your neighbor, your colleague, your coworker, your classmate, that’s going through the same thing. And we’re all in this together and we will get through this,” said Villareal.

Those who have the means to donate and wish to this holiday season can go to www.feedingamerica.org and click on the big red donate button.

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