WASHINGTON — Hunger and food insecurity across the United States have dropped measurably over the past six months, but the need remains far above pre-pandemic levels.
Specialists in hunger issues warn the situation for millions of families remains extremely fragile. An Associated Press review of bulk distribution numbers from hundreds of food banks across the country reveals a downward trend in the amount of food handed out by food banks across the country. It started in the spring as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout took hold and some closed sectors of the economy began to reopen.
However, Katie Fitzgerald of Feeding America says, “It’s come down, but it’s still elevated.” Feeding America is a nonprofit organization that coordinates 200 food banks across the country and provided the AP with the national distribution numbers. Fitzgerald says despite the recent decreases, the amount of food being distributed by Feeding America’s partner food banks remained more than 55% above pre-pandemic levels.
Factors include the advancement of the delta variant, which has already delayed planned returns to the office for millions of employees and could threaten school closures and other shutdowns as the nation enters the winter flu season. Other obstacles include the gradual expiration of several COVID-19-specific protections, such as the eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment benefits.