Hunger: a constant companion

COVID-19 has made hunger a constant companion for many Americans. Here’s how you can help.

The figure – in a nation with as much wealth and resources as the United States – is staggering.  

On Aug. 16, the Wall Street Journal reported, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, that nearly 20 percent of American families said they could not afford to provide enough food for their children in July.

Next time you drive down a residential street count five houses – and know that on average at least one chronically hungry child lives in a home that you passed. 

But, of course, hunger isn’t distributed proportionately.  It falls much heavier on lower-income neighborhoods, like those Shepherd Community Center serves on Indianapolis’ near east side. 

“With the end to unemployment benefits and the end of the moratoriums on utility shut offs and evictions, we are seeing an increased pressure on the working poor,” Shepherd’s Executive Director Jay Height said. “For many, the future seems cloudier, with no return to work on the horizon.”

Shepherd has distributed thousands of meals to hundreds of east side families since the pandemic hit in March.  Food banks and other nonprofits in Indiana and across the nation have done the same.  And, as the Journal noted, the number of people receiving aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program increased 16% from March to April.

But the level of unmet needs is still great.  Indiana’s unemployment stood at 12.3% in May — and again job losses aren’t evenly distributed.  With Indianapolis’ convention, entertainment and sports sectors still shut down, many east side residents who worked in the downtown hospitality and service industries remain out of work.

“Retraining is part of what we are providing our neighbors,” Height said. “While we move people to employment, we will continue to meet the most basic of needs – hunger – in a deeper way.”

One critical means of meeting that basic need is to provide food packs for Shepherd families.  A $20 donation will feed a student for a week.  A gift of $65 will feed a family for a week.

You can donate to help feed a family struggling with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic here:

As the pandemic wears on and some aspects of life return more to normal, it’s easy to forget that the consequences of the worst economic disruption since the 1930s continue to torment millions of Americans, including many who call the east side home. 

Hunger is a constant companion for far too many of our neighbors.  They continue to need your help.