Food Security at an Insecure Time
Global Food Security Expert Talks Access and Availability in the Age of COVID-19
Food insecurity is not something that strikes in turbulent times. For tens of millions of Americans – many of whom have college degrees and full-time jobs, the benchmarks of personal security and upward mobility – food insecurity is a daily reality. This means that people don't have enough food for everyone in a household to live a healthy, active life, according to Feeding America, the parent organization to more than 200 food banks nationwide.
You've heard the anecdotal stories: parents go without to ensure that their children have something to eat; children eat at school with no guarantee of a nutritious meal on the weekends or throughout the summer, or individuals of any age simply go without. More than 35 percent of American households were food insecure in 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, unemployment nationwide has spiked as businesses are forced to shutter because the consumer networks they service are simply not in operation. Elsewhere, non-essential businesses have been encouraged to close for the health and wellbeing of their employees and the surrounding community. Pennsylvania is to-date the hardest by unemployment with more than 650,000 people filing unemployment claims in the first eleven days of the crisis. Last week, Governor Wolf called Pennsylvania "the epicenter of unemployment insurance claims."
As the crisis prolongs and unemployment continues to rise and persist, we wanted to know if the access to and availability of food would be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. We've all seen empty shelves and many have experienced higher prices for items in their weekly food budget. But should we be concerned? Will the demand be greater than the supply? As more people look to some form of public assistance to keep food on their table, will there be an expansion of benefits? Are there things consumers can do to benefit themselves and to assist the community-at-large to make sure everyone can get the food they need in this difficult time?
We took these questions to Caitlin Welsh, the director of global food security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. She talked about how we can better deal with this legacy issue while facing an emergent threat.
Caitlin Welsh will discuss food security issues during live broadcast Thursday, April 2, at 6 p.m., available via live stream by the Jefferson Educational Society's Facebook page.