World Food Day is an international day celebrated every year around the world on October 16 in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security.
“Food is the essence of life and the bedrock of our cultures and communities. Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic and resulting economic shocks.” – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Southwestern Pennsylvania unfortunately is not unique in its need for food assistance in the United States. Across the county, in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting massive economic downturn, Feeding America is projecting an estimated five percent increase in the need for food assistance. That equates to an estimated additional nearly 1.9 million people. Locally, this increase equates to an estimated added 13,000 + people needing food assistance.
“We’ve been out of work since the beginning of March. My girlfriend’s been supporting me now, so I mean, all my bills are getting paid. My bank account is down to zero, just about. I got my (stimulus) check, but that took care of the rent and everything else. It’s just tough, but we’re getting by.” – Dale, drive-up distribution attendee
Since March 16, together with our network, we have delivered more than 25.2 million pounds of food to the community, but there is still more work to be done. The individuals hardest hit by the economic shock related to this pandemic are going to be working to recover for the next 12 to 18 months. We are committed to standing with our neighbors throughout their recovery in a variety of ways.
In addition to our traditional ways of distributing food (our food assistance network, drive-up distributions, Doorstep Delivery and after-school and summer youth programs), we are doubling down on our efforts to make more food available to individuals in food desert communities (communities without grocery stores) through our Green Grocer program. We also remain dedicated to providing SNAP application assistance and connections to other social services through our Life Stabilization team.
Despite all this work, hunger is not an issue we can solve alone. We need the community to continue to stand along with us, especially throughout the holiday season when holiday costs and increased utility charges make having enough food to eat especially challenging.
We can all do something to help our neighbors facing hunger. Starting a physical or virtual Food and Fund Drive or signing-up to volunteer are just a few easy things you can do. For more ideas or to talk about how you, your social group or corporation can take action, reach out to us at [email protected].