Global problems have been amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some are readily solvable, some will take time. Others have no immediate or foreseeable solution. One issue can be solved right now. Hunger. A widespread disease that’s easily treatable, and totally curable.
In my state of Massachusetts, food insecurity has risen 59 percent over last year, the highest increase in the country. Tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs find they, for the first time, are unable to afford food to put on their tables, instead stand in long lines at food lines at food banks. One in eight adults now goes hungry. For children, it’s one in five. This year the percentage of hungry people is predicted to rise to 66 percent. How do we address this pandemic within a pandemic, and how can we help?
I spoke with Catherine Drennan Lynn, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Greater Boston Food Bank about this past week on my podcast, Embark. Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) works with Feeding America whose mission is to end hunger through public policy and awareness. GBFB works with state and federal government, and 600 partners to find ways to safely reach and feed our most vulnerable.
Catherine most recently led a successful state legislative campaign on school breakfast and built a statewide coalition to support this effort called Rise and Shine Massachusetts. The Breakfast After the Bell bill, which will expand access to school breakfast for more than 150,000 low-income students in Massachusetts, was passed unanimously in the State House of Representatives and State Senate and signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in August 2020. At the federal level, she is actively engaged in the national dialogue on the COVID-19 response, Child Nutrition Reauthorization, healthcare and tax reform and the recent 2018 Farm Bill. Her work advances the mission to end hunger in eastern Massachusetts and position GBFB as a national thought leader on hunger and poverty.
We talked at length about the rising numbers of families who suffer from food insecurity, especially as so many jobs that were lost last year. It’s something, Drennan Lynn says ” that keeps us up at night. It’s an incredible problem with this pandemic. We have a spotlight on this issue right now that we’ve never really had before. So people are very, very focused.”
Even with the promised of widespread vaccination, and the road to herd immunity, Drennan Lynn sees long-term problems. “Our fear is once people get vaccinated, and sort of get back to normal in their everyday lives, people will forget. And truthfully, this problem is not going away overnight. It’s going to take years for people to recover from this financial ruin that this pandemic has caused. We really need to make sure people with us for the long haul and continue to support our mission.”
Organizations like GBFB do so much to alleviate hunger, and advocate for those affected by it. Support their efforts by donating as much as you can to your local food bank or Feeding America. Organize at a food bank. Perhaps your house of worship provides opportunities for community outreach. Call your legislators, Ask around. Forward this post to friends and neighbors.
If we can spend human time and capital on developing a vaccine for a virulent disease, can we also find a way to help our neighbor and eliminate hunger. We certainly share the humanity and resources to meet the challenge.
Organizations that can use your help: