Basic Needs Poverty United States Humanitarian Crisis

(Image: Georgia National Guard, Creative Commons)

Nonprofits across the country are struggling to manage a surge in demand for foodstuffs this holiday season as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to push more Americans into poverty.

The relief organization Feeding America reports that 50.4 million people in the United States face food insecurity, an increase of more than 13 million individuals compared to 2018. While Congress provided a $1,200 stimulus check to all Americans through the Cares Act in March, political gridlock in Washington, D.C. has prevented further relief from reaching those who need it the most. As a result, the nation is preparing for its grimmest holiday season in decades.

The nonprofit DC Central Kitchen, which provides free meals to soup kitchens and underserved communities in the nation’s capital, reports that it will provide 5,000 more Thanksgiving meals this year compared to 2019. Banded Gracious Women Reborn Incorporated in North Carolina is doubling its food donations this year. In Wisconsin, Second Harvest Foodbank has increased its food provision by 55 percent. YMCAs across the nation are reporting a 25 percent increase of people relying on their food programs.

While nonprofits face greater demand for their services, they must also comply with health guidelines put in place to curtail the spread of COVID-19, placing additional financial strain on relief organizations already struggling to raise money during an economic downturn. In an interview with ABC, Mike Curtin of DC Central Kitchen discussed the disruptive impact of COVID-19 on his organization’s operations and the communities it serves: “When you’re living in a situation where every day you’re trying to achieve normalcy in a non-pandemic time, getting to that place to celebrate Thanksgiving is [now] that much harder.”

One of the best ways to make a difference this holiday season is by donating to local food banks and basic needs nonprofits. It is also imperative that Congress passes a comprehensive stimulus bill that strengthens the safety net for struggling Americans before the end of the year. The failure to do so could result in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

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