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Both globally and nationally, the worldwide health crisis and resulting economic instability has brought us some of the highest rates of food insecurity we have seen in years. A study conducted by Northwestern University researchers estimated that since the COVID-19 health emergency, food insecurity in the US has doubled overall and tripled among households with children. The research states that low income families have been especially affected, due to a loss of subsidized school lunches paired with a high level of unemployment among US women.

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of reliable access to sufficient amounts of affordable and nutritious food. According to Food Rescue US, not only does hunger hinder one’s ability to work and learn, but food insecurity also forces families to make impossible choices between nourishment, safety, and shelter. This results in emotional strain, poor health, and mental turmoil.

By the end of October 2020, there was already a 79% increase in demand on food banks across the New York metropolitan area. According to Jean Shafiroff, a board member for the New York City Mission Society, food banks are struggling to meet this tremendous demand. “Millions have lost their jobs and as a result, the emergency lifelines are under particular stress, providing the food they need,” Shafiroff told BUST. “Many families are relying on food pantries, banks, and kitchens for the first time. I would recommend that people donate financially if they can, step up and volunteer, and spread awareness among themselves and their loved ones of the dire straits that our food pantries face.”

Here are some ways you can combat food insecurity and help hungry families right now:

Vizer – Vizer is a free app that combats hunger in America. Each day you walk 10,000 steps or more, a meal is donated through a partnering food bank on your behalf. You can download it onto your phone through either the Apple App Store or Google Play.

412 Food Rescue  – This app was started in Pittsburgh and is now used by hunger relief and food rescue groups in Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. Volunteer drivers are notified when excess food is available in their area; they then transfer that food to those who can use it.

Food Rescue US – Like 412, Food Rescue US reduces waste by transferring food from grocers and restaurants that would have been thrown away to food-insecure families around America.

Transfernation – Transfernation diverts food from landfills to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other programs in the NYC metropolitan area.

Feeding America – Feeding America is the largest food bank in the United States. You can donate on their site, start a fundraiser, or discover local volunteer opportunities. The site provides a “Find Your Local Food Bank” page that connects you with any nearby food banks in Feeding America's network — all you have to do is enter your zip code.

Goodr – Goodr is a 24/7 service in Atlanta, GA that picks up surplus food from businesses and transports it to nonprofits.

Action Against Hunger – If you’d like to donate globally, Action Against Hunger supports people in need in 46 countries around the world.

And don't forget to look through your local newspaper to find nearby food drives for your community. 

Top photo: Unsplash

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Marissa is an NYC-based writer who loves feminism, doughnuts, and being outside. She's not a huge fan of writing personal bios, but she does love writing pretty much anything else. Read more of her work at marissadubecky.com and follow her on Instagram at @marissa_aleta

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