One Year of COVID-19: State of Hunger in SWPA
By Beth Burrell
March 16, 2021 marks one year since Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (the Food Bank) held its first COVID-19 response distribution. While the pandemic dramatically increased the need for food assistance nationwide and completely changed the ways in which food banks can distribute food to our neighbors in need, it has not disrupted the Food Bank’s commitment to the community.
At the beginning of the pandemic, lines at drive-up distributions stretched for miles. While the hope was the dramatic increase in need was temporary and directly related to stay at home orders and business downturns, the reality is the need has not returned to pre-pandemic rates. Due to COVID-19, our region has seen a 42 percent increase in food insecurity since 2018. In 2018, approximately 260,000 people were food insecure. That number is now about 370,000.
Individuals and families who never imagined asking for a helping hand have turned to the Food Bank for the first time. People and neighborhoods most vulnerable to food insecurity – especially communities of color and groups such as children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and people in rural communities – need our support more than ever to ensure they have a steady source of fresh and healthy food.
Below, a few members of our team recall the beginning of the pandemic and explain how far we’ve come since then. From an increase in the amount of food we’ve distributed to reinventing programs, we could not have done this without the community’s support. Thank you for standing alongside our neighbors during these unprecedented times. Your generosity has meant that thousands of our neighbors – families, children and seniors – have had access to the food they need.
Together we can ensure that all of our neighbors have enough to eat for today, tomorrow and a lifetime.