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The Pandemic & Hunger: A note from Lauren on frontline hunger fighters.

People lined up in their cars at a food distribution site in San Antonio, Texas. Credit...William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News, via Associated Press.

As this community is well-aware, hunger is a daily struggle for many in the US and around the globe. Pre-pandemic, one in nine people globally were food insecure —meaning they lacked consistent, reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Now with the high rates of unemployment caused by COVID-19, tens of millions of children out of school, and a global sense of uncertainty, the issue of hunger is more dire than ever.

David Beasley, the executive director of the UN World Food Programme (FEED's main giving partner), warns of the "looming hunger pandemic." A disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that will result in "famine in about three dozen countries." According to their analysis, "300,000 people could starve to death every single day for the next three months," if they aren't able to keep up the humanitarian aid in the face of border closures.

In the United States, according to the recently released Brookings report, rates of food insecurity are meaningfully higher than at any point in the last 19 years. The report stated that "by the end of April, more than one in five households in the U.S. and two in five households with mothers with children 12 and under, were food insecure."

Of the mothers with young children, 17.4 percent reported that since the pandemic started, the children in their households were not eating enough because they could not afford enough food. In 2018, this percentage was just 3.1 percent. It is clear that young children are experiencing food insecurity to an extent that is unprecedented in modern times.

As the COVID-19 curve flattens in many places, the hunger curve continues to increase. In the words of the CEO of the Food Bank for NYC, Leslie Gordon, “This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.”

With the increased need, there has thankfully been an increase in support—but so much more is needed. Celebrities, philanthropists, and business leaders have joined the hunger fight, with large-scale donations and funds. America's Food Fund, which launched in April supports a network of organizations fighting food insecurity in America, received funding from Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs and more. There have been telethons, campaigns, and personal efforts on Instagram, all raising awareness and much-needed funds to help those impacted by the COVID-19 hunger crisis.

Over the past few months, friends have reached out asking which organizations I would recommend supporting to help feed children and families in need. There's a lot of information out there, and a lot of ever-increasing need to be met. I'm grateful that there are incredible organizations – many of which I have had the opportunity to support and engage with over the past decade – who are doing critical work on the frontlines to combat hunger.

Whether you can support with funds (truly, a little goes a long way), by raising awareness with your personal platforms, or (in areas where it is safe and possible) by volunteering your time, collectively those small actions can make a life-changing difference for those who need it most.

National Hunger Fighting Organizations:

No Kid Hungry is FEED's primary domestic giving-partner, helping raise funds to feed children in need here in America. We typically support their advocacy and grant program for school feeding, which works to ensure kids who need it have access to free, nutritious school breakfast meals, supper meals, and even weekend and summer meals. With schools closed right now, No Kid Hungry has given grants to 454 schools and community groups (and counting) across the country, to ensure kids in need still have access to the food they need, during the pandemic. We are proud to support NKH even more now, by offering a matching grant for every donation made at check-out, up to $10,000.

Feeding America supports a massive network of food banks across the country, which in turn support most local soup kitchens and food pantries. Pre-pandemic, an estimated 37M Americans relied on the Feeding America network. In a report they released at the end of April, depicting scenarios based on increasing changes to unemployment and poverty rates (two strong drivers of food insecurity), "the number of people experiencing food insecurity could rise by 17.1 million." FA serves as a safety net for so many and the work of their network is at the frontlines of helping meet the current need.

World Central Kitchen, founded by Chef Jose Andres, is working across America to safely distribute emergency, individually packaged, fresh, meals in communities that need support. These meals are available for children and families to pick up and take home, as well as delivered to seniors who cannot venture outside. WCK is now active in dozens of cities providing over 250,000 fresh meals every day.

NYC Hunger Fighting Orgs:

The Food Bank for NYC is doing incredible work to help New York families in need, as a result of the massive impact of COVID-19 here in NYC. From their warehouse in the Bronx, the Food Bank delivers food regularly to its network of 1000+ agencies in the five boroughs. Amid this new reality, they are seeing a 50% increase in the number of people relying on this emergency food network for support. They also run a Community Kitchen in Harlem which serves fresh meals and is a food pantry for many. In order to further support our neighbors in need, as an NYC-based small business, we recently released a relief tote that has helped provide over 25,000 meals to New York families in need – and we're not done. Join the waitlist to shop the second version, coming later this week.

New York Common Pantry is New York City's largest community-based food pantry, distributing grocery packages and meals to thousands of families. Team FEED has volunteered here quite a few times over the years and experienced the important work they do firsthand.

God’s Love We Deliver cooks and delivers nutritious, medically-tailored meals for people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Their clients are at the greatest risk for COVID-19, so their work is even more critical now to keep those folks at home and safe.

CHiPS is a Brooklyn based soup kitchen where folks from our FEED Shop & Cafe in Brooklyn have been volunteering the last few years. Although the soup kitchen is temporarily closed, they are still collecting and giving out food to those in need everyday from 11am-1pm.

International Hunger Fighting Organizations:

The UN World Food Programme has been FEED’s giving partner from day one. While it may be hard to look past our own communities in this moment, we're all in this together and the global need is staggering. The school feeding program that FEED normally helps fund is being adapted to offer take-home or delivery meals for kids who are sheltering at home with their families.

Akshaya Patra works in India through a highly efficient community kitchen model, preparing healthy and warm school meals to be distributed to local schools. With schools out of session, AP has adapted their kitchens to relief service by providing meal or packed grocery kits to the marginalized and low-income segments of society consisting of daily wage workers, migrant laborers, construction site workers, and needy people at old age homes and night shelters.

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