Officials in Delaware are finally getting a grasp on what kind of impact novel coronavirus COVID-19 is going to have on the need for nutritional access as food insecurities increase in the wake of the global pandemic, according to a new study from Feeding America.
"Feeding America is a national umbrella organization for food banks across the nation," said Kim Turner of the Food Bank of Delaware. "We are a member of Feeding America. Prior to the pandemic, there was expected to be about 121,850 food-insecure Delawareans. With the pandemic, it is now estimated that there will be more than 171,000 food-insecure people in our state."
According to The Impact of the Coronavirus on Local Food Insecurity, a national swing of more than 54 million people would occur in a worst-case scenario in the fallout from COVID-19. The organization said "the assumption used for the annual projected unemployment rate...is most consistent with published projections from other credible sources," which includes a monthly Wall Street Journal survey, the Congressional Budget Office, and Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research.
"We weren't surprised; we've been on the front line of the economic impact of COVID-19 since mid-March," Turner said. "Back on March 18th, I think was the date we held our first drive-thru distribution in Wilmington. We were down at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. We had traffic backed up to I-95. So it's certainly not a surprise, based on the sheer volume of people who were coming out, who are reaching out in need of assistance, according to our pantries at our warehouse in Newark and Milford. So, it's good that we have a number that we can rely on, based on data that's sound. But just on the ground, speaking with people, seeing the people, the number isn't surprising to us."
While not surprising, Turner said it was concerning, especially when it came to the number of children represented in the estimated 171,930 Delawareans who would face food insecurities on the other side of the pandemic.
"So 57,270 of those people are children," she said. "That's very concerning for the Food Bank of Delaware and our partners up and down the state. We know that kids need food in order to learn and play and grow, so the childhood hunger number is particularly startling for us."
Turner said the organization has been receiving federal assistance to help meet the needs of the people, but much like the programs designed for individual assistance, large scale programs will also eventually discontinue.
"We have been fortunate in the fact that the USDA is providing assistance to food banks across the nation. We've been getting additional food items from USDA in order to meet the need," she said. "Obviously, people are getting the extended unemployment insurance. We know that that will expire in July. There's been pandemic EBT cards that have been issued to families who have children who receive free or reduced-price lunch. Eventually these programs are going to end, so it's certainly concerning for us, but at this point, thanks to the generosity of the community, we are equipped to meet this need. About a year ago, the food bank moved into a new 80,000-square-foot facility. Our previous facility was only 42,000 square feet. If we hadn't moved to this new building, we would be in serious trouble and would not be able to meet this demand."
The Food Bank of Delaware could use assistance in the form of monetary donations or volunteer hours. Turner said a single dollar can help provide three meals to Delawareans. Those in a position to help should visit FBD.org. Read the entire Feeding America report below: