Hunger reaches an all-time high in Colorado
A statewide survey conducted by Hunger Free Colorado recently revealed that hunger in the state has reached an all-time high. Currently, 38 percent of Coloradans are food insecure, which is more than two times the rate experienced during the Great Recession.
This increased rate is one of many side effects of the economic fallout brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than half of families with children (52 percent) struggling to consistently put food on the table, children’s health and well-being becomes increasingly at risk in the long term. As children continue to live and work from home, they need a reliable source of nutritious food now more than ever. The study revealed a number of key findings, which include:
- 1 in 4 households (22 percent) consider hunger a top concern
- People of color are facing even higher levels of hunger (52 percent) compared to those surveyed who were white (30 percent)
- 1 in 5 children (19 percent) are not getting adequately fed because there is not enough money for meals
- 37 percent of adults in families with children reported having to cut back or skip a meal because they were unable to pay for food.
Those who currently receive SNAP benefits are also facing numerous barriers to safe food access. While the federal government has recommended that Americans avoid public places as much as possible, SNAP recipients often are unable to use online shopping or delivery features. In 47 states, online ordering and delivery are available for SNAP recipients only in limited circumstances, so for most, they must risk virus exposure by shopping in-person. Individuals receiving SNAP benefits already may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as it is, seeing that those living near the poverty line may serve as essential workers or lack adequate health insurance. The higher rates of hunger among people of color also demonstrate the need for change at the structural level, as these numbers are a direct result of discriminatory policies that have existed throughout the history of our country.
With the price of groceries rising and families struggling to make ends meet, it is crucial that the state and federal government enact changes so that more children can remain well-nourished throughout the ongoing public health crisis. Last month, President Biden passed an executive order calling for the expansion of federal nutrition assistance programs. In his proposed stimulus package, he has also called to extend an increase in SNAP benefits until the end of 2021.
However, more local action is required to keep Colorado kids healthy and well-fed. Currently, Hunger Free Colorado is working alongside the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger and the CDE’s School Nutrition Unit to expand the number of kids who will be served by their summer meals program, which ensures Colorado youth have access to healthy meals throughout the summer. They have already begun increasing awareness of the program and training new and existing sponsors to adequately address the increasing hunger crisis in our state. Additional sponsors, sites, and partners are still needed. To read more about the Summer Meals Program, click here.
The original report published by Hunger Free Colorado can be accessed here.