The same women hardest hit by pandemic-related unemployment—single mothers, along with Black and Latina women—are also among those facing food insecurity and often faced with the choice to go hungry so that their children can eat, according to multiple recent studies and reports from food assistance programs around the country.
Diane Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University who studies child poverty, told The 19th that public data analyzed by her team showed “more than one in four women with children reported experiencing food insecurity.” Another study conducted by the Brookings Institution reported similar numbers, reporting “16 percent of mothers with one school-aged child didn’t have enough to feed their child. About one in 10 mothers with kids younger than 5 were in the same boat” during the months of October and November. These studies are confirmed by food banks all over the country, with one Washington D.C. organization, Bread for the People, disclosing that they are serving 5,000 families a week when they normally provide for the same amount in a month.
Many mothers who spoke with the 19th said that, amid pandemic-related unemployment and food insecurity, they often took less or no food in order to provide children with larger portions. Those without cars also cited difficulty even accessing what resources are available, and school shutdowns meant still less opportunity to ensure that children have enough to eat.
And as news about vaccines and the hope for a covid-free summer abounds, the threat of another shutdown, combined with no real plans for a stimulus package, and the looming expiration date for federal unemployment benefits—December 26—means that for many families affected by the combination unemployment and nearly non-existent social safety net, 2021 could be just as hard as 2020. [The 19th]
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