America’s Top Issue: Hunger
For more than 50 years, Feeding America food banks have been providing meals to neighbors in need and working to raise awareness about hunger. Yet it wasn’t until the pandemic, when so many lost their jobs, that hunger became a top issue for America: the government held a conference to address it, food banks topped charity lists for the first time, and need for food assistance spiked across the country.
After the initial surge in demand at the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. government provided additional assistance to families through stimulus checks and child tax credits that helped many families make ends meet. However, COVID-related federal assistance has ended, the price of food has jumped more than 12% in the last year, and more families are in need than they were during the pandemic.
Recently, over 150 of Feeding America’s 200 food banks reported increased demands for food assistance – meaning more people in America are facing hunger than ever. It’s especially true for the rural counties of southwest Missouri, which have a dramatically higher rate of food insecurity. In the past six months, Ozarks Food Harvest and their network of faith-based and community partners reported serving an average of 62,000 individuals each month; nearly 12,000 more than during the same period in 2020 and 2021. People who never needed assistance are now relying on The Food Bank for help.
As charitable food becomes a necessity for many low-income homes struggling to cope with higher prices, Ozarks Food Harvest and its network are seeing the direct effects of inflation on demand. One agency administrator in rural Laclede County saw the number of people they serve double. She shared, “With the price of food going up, we’ve seen a change in our numbers. We used to serve 18 to 25 people a day, and now we serve between 35 and 50.”
To keep up with the demand, Ozarks Food Harvest depends on year-round giving from compassionate individuals, businesses, foundations and donors like you. Your support has never been more important as we help families get on the road to recovery. Your gift may help ensure a child has enough food to eat over the weekend through the Weekend Backpack Program, or it may help a grandmother continue to receive healthy food every month through our Senior Mobile Produce Pantry.
Thank you so much for partnering with us last year to help provide meals to people facing hunger. Let’s work together in this new year to Transform Hunger into Hope!