Pandemic threatens food security for local families

Coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Four months into the COVID-19 Pandemic, many Springfield and Ozark residents are still seeking assistance with food.

In fact, the need is growing.

“We’ve seen roughly a 50% increase in the number of people seeking food assistance compared to this time last year,” Bart Brown, CEO and president of Ozarks Food Harvest said. “The thing that is even more significant is that 80 to 90 percent of that increase are new clients that are here due to covid-19.”

With federal unemployment benefits due to end later this month, food pantries will need even more help to distribute food.

“We’ve also been relying on the Missouri National Guard, and their deployment ends this month,” Brown said.

SNAP is a federal program that helps those eligible pay for groceries. During the Pandemic, the federal government allowed increases for some. But, not for those already receiving the maximum benefit

“With schools closed and Congress declining to increase SNAP benefits thus far during the pandemic, there haven’t been sufficient resources for families to make them whole here,” Lauren Bauer, Economic Studies Fellow at the Brookings Institute said. “We’re seeing the consequences with hungry kids.”

Child hunger has reached record highs during the pandemic.

“We’re seeing an almost 600% increase in child food insecurity from 2018 to right now,”

With the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, the clock is ticking for the House and Senate to agree on a plan to help those struggling to feed their families.

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