1 in 3 Coloradans Struggle To Eat: “It Would Impossible Without The Food Banks”
More Americans have been struggling to eat due to the increased price of food and reduced wages amid the pandemic, according to The Denver Post.
- A loaf of bread at one Denver grocery store, which used to cost 88 cents, rose to $1.05 when people began stocking up on food, The Denver Post reported. “I don’t have the money to get what I normally would get,” said Yvonne Dollison, a 58-year-old paraprofessional for Denver Public Schools who has to feed herself, her husband, and her two grandchildren who live with her.
- “1 in 3 Coloradans are struggling to afford food, with 40% of households seeing a drop in income,” according to a report released in late July by advocacy group Hunger Free Colorado. The state data indicated that “applications for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits - formerly known as food stamps - in April were nearly 47% year over year.”
- In order to better support families who are hit the hardest, people are demanding a “15% increase in SNAP benefits in the coronavirus relief legislation Congress is currently debating, as well as an extension of pandemic EBT, which provides money to states to ensure families who qualify get their children’s meals at home even when schools are closed,” The Denver Post reported.
- Marc Jacobson, CEO of Hunger Free Colorado, said that “the results of the survey were shocking, even having seen the numbers from people going into food pantries and the lines. More than three times the number of folks are food insecure than the last Great Recession.” The average daily calls the organization received jumped two to four times after the pandemic.
- “As a child, I experienced hunger in my household, and it was shameful somehow to even tell someone you were hungry, and there was this secret that my family carried around,” said Meighen Lovelace, an Avon resident who has used the state assistance for food. “And I don’t think hunger needs to be your secret.”
Food banks and their partners have stepped up food distribution and are sending double the amount of food they distributed before the pandemic.
- Food Bank of the Rockies has given out roughly 300,000 meals a day. “Since the pandemic started, between 30% and 40% of Coloradans getting food from food banks and mobile pantries are first-time users,” said the organization’s CEO Erin Pulling. Its monthly budget also rose $1 million because of the high demand.
- “Food banks alone cannot fill the increased needs during the pandemic,” said Pulling. “Colorado needs additional federal support for state programs, particularly SNAP. … Of Colorado’s CARES ACT dollars, $500,000 went toward food pantry programs,” reported by The Denver Post.
- The USDA’s Farmers to Families Program has provided food banks and pantries with 4.4 million pounds of fresh produce, meat, and dairy, but it would stop in October. Food banks would have to spend “$2.2 million per month or $17.6 million over the next eight months to buy that food,” said Pulling.
Black and Latino families are hit the hardest. “More than 44% of people who identified as Hispanic or Latinx were worried and 36% who identified as Black or African American were worried, compared with 29% who identified as white,” according to a survey released in April by Healthier Colorado and the Colorado Health Foundation.