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COVID-19

Food programs see a huge increase in need during the pandemic

Mitchell Hartman Nov 25, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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People receive bags of food, including turkeys, at a Thanksgiving food distribution on Nov. 20 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

Food programs see a huge increase in need during the pandemic

Mitchell Hartman Nov 25, 2020
People receive bags of food, including turkeys, at a Thanksgiving food distribution on Nov. 20 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

This Thanksgiving holiday is different from last year in so many ways: people not traveling, families not getting together, or perhaps only seeing each other on shared screens. Many Americans are cutting back on celebrations of all kinds, with millions out of work. Some who’ve lost work and income will have less to eat this Thanksgiving.

And increased demand is impacting food banks and feeding programs.

Jacobsen Valentine runs Feed the Mass in Portland, Oregon. Since early in the pandemic, the group’s been taking donations of unsold food from places like Costco and Amazon and preparing free meals for people in need.

“We started out doing about 150 every weekend, and now we’re up to about close to 1,000 a day,” he said.

Nationwide, demand for food assistance has soared, said Katie Fitzgerald at Feeding America, an umbrella group for food banks.

“The 200 Feeding America food banks have consistently reported about 60% more people showing up at food distributions than before the pandemic,” she said.

Heading into winter, Fitzgerald predicts food insecurity will worsen. Meanwhile, she said, food banks face a decline in supply, as two federal programs that provide food from U.S. farmers are set to expire.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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