Home Christian News Churches Step up to Fill Stomachs as Food Insecurity Soars

Churches Step up to Fill Stomachs as Food Insecurity Soars

Needs Will Persist, Say Experts 

The end of 2020 won’t mean the end of the pandemic or of hunger. A study by Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger-relief organization, projects that up to one in three adults and one in two children could face food insecurity due to COVID-19 and its ripple effects.

Globally, the pandemic could double the number of food-insecure individuals, according to the United Nations. “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” says Arif Husain, chief economist for the U.N. World Food Program. He tells NPR, “It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock—like COVID-19—to push them over the edge.”

Cynthia Rosenzweig, a scientist with NASA and the Earth Institute, says of the pandemic’s domino effect: “The loss of income is so important to the people that aren’t able to buy food. Then, the knock-on effect is that the producers are not able to sell food either. This is basically a downward spiral in many countries in the world, particularly in the vulnerable and lower-income, developing countries. It’s going to take a long time for them to recover.”

Some researchers fear COVID-19 will have hunger-related repercussions through the year 2050. And the World Bank projects that the pandemic will force another 100 million people worldwide into “extreme poverty,” with a significant portion of them in “middle-income countries.”

Churches Plan to Provide Food ‘for the long haul’

Despite those bleak projections, many U.S. churches and volunteers express a willingness to persist well past the final days of 2020. Judith Norman, who has coordinated weekly food giveaways since Good Friday at Clarence E. McClendon Ministries in Inglewood, California, says, “We’re here for the long haul. We are committed to serving this community.”

Throughout the year, the ministry acquired local partners such as Costco and Food 4 Less to support its outreach efforts. “When your bellies are full, your mind is full,” says organizer Cora Merriweather. “But when you got a hungry belly, it kind of messes with your head.”

An often-repeated theme from food distributors is that the giveaways are judgment-free zones. “There’s nothing to be ashamed for when one needs help,” says Diana Yanet Franco of New Life in Chicago, “and we want to be here for our people.”

Food insecurity is “one of the most difficult things you can go through,” says Marlando Sparks of New Beginning in Washington. “We’re not judging. We just know that (the pandemic) has impacted many, many families.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 28 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her family.