America is dealing with a crisis combo that seems to have no end. Apart from the health and financial crisis, the US is now facing a staggering situation: food shortage are becoming a reality in many different regions of the country. The global supply chain has been suffering even before this sanitary outbreak had started, with plagues killing animals and devouring crops, as a result of environmental shifts related to climate change.
After the lockdown started, many food processing facilities were shut down, leading farmers to have to gas or shoot their own animals, because they’re not allowed to sell them and they didn’t have enough money to keep feeding all of them until the activities are resumed. Even more, because there are no estimates for when this is going to happen, since many workers from these plants are now sick. Most of these workers are immigrants, assuming dangerous job posts and earning minimum wage, and now configuring some of the highest infection rates of the country.
The majority of the meat processing facilities are owned by large corporations that decided to keep their doors closed despite the fact that President Trump has ordered them to reopen. They’re worried about exposing workers’ lives at risk, and of course, they’re worried about lawsuits. This situation is making farmers lose their animals and their products due to contractual obligations. The New York Times has announced that some of them are losing $390,000 a day in goods they cannot sell and they cannot keep.
That is creating a massive price increase in food. Some say, the largest one month increase since 1974. At many stores, shelves are starting to appear empty. And, as a consequence of the imminent rise in demands and a significant drop in supplies, prices are soaring to unprecedented levels, and soon, many people won’t be able to afford for as much food as they were used to.
In fact, the United Nations have been warning for a dramatic boost in starvation rates, prior to the beginning of the health crisis. With UN Executive Director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, affirming that we are not only facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, but also we could soon watch over 300,000 people starve on a daily basis for at least three months.
Apparently, when he stated that, he wasn’t even considering the effects of the outbreak and how it could possibly impact the increase of food deprivation in many countries around the globe. That is to say, these rates could hit a much higher number of people.
Even though wealthy western countries aren’t used to incoming threats of starvation, after this crisis had started, projections are booming and leading to an explosion of hunger in worldwide proportions.
Food banks are now having kilometer-long lines, since 33.3 million Americans have lost their jobs, with no predictions of when they’re going to retake their routines and their posts. This overwhelming scenario have forcing people to wait in line for hours, and even days, to get supplies to feed their families.
In 2014, according to a Washington Post report, 46 million people depended on food banks and meal service programs annually. In 2019, this number climbed to 38 million people using the US Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as maintained by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. For 2020, Feeding America, the largest hunger-fighting charity in the country, estimates that an additional 17.1 million people will face food insecurity in the coming months, setting an increase of 46%.
These food banks are non-profit organizations that receive food donations and act as warehouses and large distribution centers. Each of them works with a network of smaller charities, responsible for passing on donations that are necessary to the population.
The scenes were long lines of cars are waiting for food are becoming a constant across the nation, and contrasting with images of empty streets in most American cities. Many of these people are seeking help for the first time in their lives, and probably have never imagined that one day they would be in line for food assistance.
At this point, we can only hope that food processing plants will start to reopen, in this way, there will be a reduction in harvest waste and animal put down, easing the temporary shortages that we are all dealing with.
But even so, analysts have been predicting that global food supplies are going to continue to get tighter and tighter, leading to more aggravating shortages in the future for the US, and food prices may never come back to where they’re at right now. So you must take this chance to prepare yourself for what’s yet to come.