Keeping up with Demand

As food insecurity surges, hunger relief organizations adapt to keep up

“The numbers are staggering,” Erin Kuschner writes in a June 26 article on  Food insecurity could affect one in eight residents of Eastern Massachusetts by the end of the year, according to the hunger relief organization Feeding America. That represents an increase of 59 percent over the period of time before the coronavirus pandemic. 

The increase is being felt by food banks and pantries as unemployment rates go up, and the state has acknowledged the drastic shift. Between the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund and the COVID-19 Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, more than $61 million has been granted to boost the capacity of food banks, food pantries, SNAP, WIC, and other food assistance services. 

“In order to meet the exploding demand, these organizations have adapted their business models, conducting door-to-door drop-offs and putting more emphasis on hunger prevention,” Erin Kuschner writes.  

“The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) witnessed its two largest distribution months — March and April — in its 40-year history, with 8.1 million pounds of food distributed in March and 9.5 million distributed in April. Prior to the pandemic, the food bank’s highest average monthly distribution was 5.7 million pounds per month in 2019. The YMCA of Greater Boston, which has focused on hunger prevention since closing its branches for wellness and aquatics, has seen an explosion in its numbers as well. James Morton, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston, shared that in 2019, the organization delivered 837,000 meals to children throughout the year. In the last three months, it delivered more than one million meals to children, families, and seniors in the Boston area.”

Many organizations that provide food are expecting another surge in the coming months—not because of a second wave of COVID infections, but because of continued unemployment and the federal government’s decision to cut $600 per week of aid. 

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