The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the already troubling food insecurity crisis in America.
It's an understatement to say that 2020 has been a difficult year.
A new poll suggests that an astounding number of Americans are facing food insecurity on a daily basis, with some parents even going hungry to make sure they have enough food to feed their kids.
According to a poll conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Two Good Yogurt, the survey found that 79% of their respondents said they didn't have the support they needed when they were faced with food insecurity.
6 in 10 people said that the expiration of federal stimulus programs earlier this year made it harder to find food for their families.
Overall, 2,000 people were polled. About 1,500 said they had experienced food insecurity firsthand.
Half of the respondents said they have experienced not having enough money to buy food.
37 percent have skipped meals so their children could eat.
35 percent have not known where their next meal would come from.
Officials say we need to talk about food insecurity in America. It's a very real crisis that impacting more and more families.
"Two Good supported this survey to drive conversation around the increasingly urgent issue of food insecurity in our country," said Surbhi Martin, Vice President of Marketing at Danone North America. "We found that for nearly 40% of respondents, COVID-19 contributed to their first experience with food insecurity. The majority of those surveyed (63%) also did not realize they were food insecure - indicating a clear discrepancy in our collective understanding of what constitutes food insecurity in the first place."
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This survey is just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, more than 35 million Americans experienced food insecurity. Because of the pandemic, this year, that number could be as high as 50 million.
60 percent more people have been seeking help from Feeding America since the pandemic began.
"We think that about four in 10 of the people we're serving now are new to needing charitable assistance," Kate Leone, Feeding America's chief government relations officer, told NPR.
Leone says that the federal government needs to pass a new economic relief package and increase SNAP benefits so families can make sure they have access to food.
"Feeding America ... is the largest response to hunger in the charitable sector," she said. "But for every one meal our network provides, SNAP provides nine. So there really is nothing that can compare to the scope of assistance that we can provide to people than the SNAP program. So really increasing those benefits just a little bit during this time when grocery prices are spiking — and benefits aren't going as far — would go a long way to helping people everywhere right now."
Emily Slazer, food sourcing manager of the New Orleans's Second Harvest Food Bank, wants people who are experiencing food insecurity to know that they're not alone.
"I just hope that they would understand and hope that they would hear that no one needs to justify getting help or explain why they're hungry because what's much more important than that is how can we offer them help," she told NPR.
One bright note of the survey from Two Good Yogurt is this: 6 in 10 Americans said COVID-19 inspired them to give back to their communities. They hope to volunteer with an organization that specifically fights food insecurity.