A poll released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week revealed that at least nine million American households that include children are unsure whether they’ll be able to access enough food in the next four weeks and millions more are experiencing housing insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.
The bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, taken between May 14 and 19, asked respondents about their loss of employment, food security, overall health, and other issues they are facing during the pandemic.
According to the data, more than nine million households are “not at all confident” that they will be able to afford food in the next month, and more than 18 million are only “somewhat confident” about their food security.
The Census also asked respondents whether they had experienced food insecurity prior to March 13, when President Donald Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency and schools across the country shut down.
Just over two million people had “often” not had enough to eat before the pandemic forced state and local economies to shut down, which was followed by little economic relief for families from the federal government.
Since the coronavirus outbreak began spreading across the country in March, food banks have reported skyrocketing numbers of Americans relying on their services, including many who had never before needed assistance accessing food.
With 74% of U.S. families living paycheck-to-paycheck — including one in four households that earn at least $150,000 per year — the pandemic and the federal government’s reluctance to offer more than a one-time direct payment of $1,200 to most Americans plunged millions into desperate situations overnight.