In 2021, 38 million Americans faced food insecurity according to the USDA. Food insecurity occurs when an individual has limited access to food and cannot afford substantial amounts of food for themselves. This issue has been made even more prevalent in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as individuals have experienced direct economic impacts, such as job loss and reduced wages, that have affected their income and access to necessities. More specifically, families and people of color have been left disproportionately food insecure, both before and after the pandemic, primarily due to systemic injustices. The food supply chain in the United States has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, limiting distribution of foods, especially to those most in need that rely on local food banks and federal programs for their meals.
Impacts in Philadelphia Community
Hunger in Philadelphia is all too common - as nearly one in four Philadelphians are food insecure, according to reports from the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. Food insecurity has been a prevalent issue in the city for decades, but has also been exacerbated in recent years by the pandemic. Areas in the city with higher rates of poverty, such as the North Philadelphia community, have only been hit harder by food insecurity as these individuals and families struggle to access and afford nutritious food. In Philadelphia, roughly 21% of individuals are food insecure, yet North Philadelphia faces rates of 30% or higher. The Center for Hunger-Free Communities has reported that food insecurity among children has tripled in the North Philly community since the start of the pandemic, as parents struggle to balance working full-time and supporting their children with the challenges presented during COVID-19.
Food insecurity is also pervasive among college students, as reports find 36% of students know someone who has experienced food insecurity and consequently dropped out of school due to being unable to afford and access meals during the pandemic. Many students feel embarrassed and find it difficult to find on-campus resources for basic needs like food. An annual report released by The Hope Center for College Community and Justice at Temple University has found that three in five university students were dealing with food insecurity in 2020.
Organizations Working Towards Change
There are several community-based organizations in Philadelphia working towards providing assistance to those battling food insecurity. The following is a brief list of available resources:
Striving to distribute food and end hunger in local communities, Philabundance is a non-profit organization with food banks primarily serving Philadelphia and Delaware Valley. The site features a ‘Food Map” that helps individuals find agencies and kitchens providing free food to areas near them.
The Share Food Program, located in Philadelphia, is a leading food bank working to fight hunger in the city. The organization offers emergency food relief and partners with community pantries to make food more available to Philadelphians.
The Sunday Love Project offers dinners every Sunday and Tuesday to the community at the Church of Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse. Sunday LOVE has also recently partnered with nearby high school and elementary schools to provide food specifically to children in need.
Cherry Pantry works to combat hunger at Temple by offering a pantry of free food and groceries to students on campus. The pantry is located in the Howard Gittis Student Center (Room 224a) and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for students to shop.
It is a basic human right for every person, regardless of background or economic status, to have regular access to nutritious foods and other basic necessities. Hunger is on the rise in Philadelphia, but it is hopeful to see that many organizations are working to combat this pertinent issue in our city.
Check the organization links above to see how you can get involved and volunteer to help end food insecurity in our community altogether!
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