“The COVID-19 pandemic magnified all of the broken social systems that result in hunger…Worldwide tragedies don’t simply pose new challenges, they reveal old ones that have been hiding in plain sight.”
And, that has disproportionally affected lower-income communities. Pre-pandemic, food insecurity and poverty were already high in many parts of the US. So, when the pandemic hit, the broken systems that result in hunger were exposed and intensified. Since March, food insecurity and poverty have sky-rocketed.
That’s where the Meals-To-You program came in. There’s a good chance you know about this program already. Have you seen the pictures of food boxes being delivered to families? Or maybe you are a recipient of one of these boxes? Jeremy Everett leads the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty – and, is a real-life friend and neighbor of mine. Pre-pandemic, his team was already working on addressing hunger and poverty in the US and doing incredible work, including working with the US government on the National Commission on Hunger.
“Families at this income level [federal minimum wage] are forced to make tradeoffs each month, determining which expenses they will pay, typically resulting in eating less frequently. This results in persistent hunger in our low-income communities and rural towns across the U.S. Now multiply this example by systemic racism, partisanship and gender inequality, among other issues, and you see that one of the results of broken social systems persistently is hunger.”
Now, they have provided over 40 million meals to families in the US during the pandemic by partnering with the USDA, PepsiCo, McLane Global, and others. Jeremy wrote a powerful piece in the Dallas Morning News that I wanted to share with you all.
In it, he highlights: “The realities are complex. Far too complex for us to end hunger and poverty by volunteering or with the occasional philanthropic gift. Taking significant steps towards food and economic justice for those in poverty will require listening to people in poverty to hear their concerns and solutions for the problem.” Take a few minutes and read his words. This will be our next step as national neighbors in 2021 as we recover from the pandemic. It will take all of us to “move our nation forward for us to assist those who have too little”, as Jeremy said.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
If you want to know more about the program, watch this video: https://www2.baylor.edu/baylorproud/2020/05/usda-expands-baylor-program-for-feeding-rural-schoolkids-to-provide-5-million-meals-a-week/
If you want to donate, I would encourage you to visit: https://www.baylor.edu/hungerandpoverty/
Here’s the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty FB site if you want to follow along on social media: https://www.facebook.com/BaylorCollaborativeOnHungerandPoverty
If you want to read his excellent book (I would recommend it for a great holiday-read), go here: https://www.iwashungrybook.com/