As the economy slips into recession, driven by high unemployment, not seen since the 1930s, a quarter of Americans have skipped meals or relied on charity or government food programs since February, according to Kaiser Family Foundation’s May Tracking Poll survey of over 1,100 US adults (conducted between May 13-18).
“One in four Americans (26%) say they or a member of their household have skipped meals or relied on charity or government food programs since February, including 14% who say they have reduced the size of meals or skipped meals because there wasn’t enough money for food, 13% who have visited a food bank or pantry for meals, and 13% who have applied for or received SNAP benefits,” the survey said.
Figure 7: One-Fourth Say They Have Skipped Meals, Visited A Food Bank, Or Have Applied For Or Received SNAP Benefits Since February
One in six (16%) Americans said skipping meals or relying on charity or government for food was due to the devastating impacts from months of lockdowns that left them financially paralyzed. With very little savings and insurmountable debts, the economic hardships of the downturn are already starting to be realized. Many folks fell into instant poverty and will be financially ruined for the next several years; hence, why universal basic income is coming. A further 10% of respondents said food security issues developed well before the pandemic.
Figure 8: One In Six Say They Have Skipped Meals, Visited A Food Bank, Or Applied For Or Received SNAP Due To Impacts Of Coronavirus
A third (34%) of Americans said they or their spouse experienced a job loss or reduced hours, resulting in declining income, making it harder for them to feed their families. Among this group, 38% said they skipped meals or relied on charity or government food programs since February.
Racial groups and economic status played a huge part in who went hungry. Large shares of blacks, Hispanics, and lower-income households were hit the hardest:
“Black and Latino adults and those with lower incomes appear to be harder hit. About four in ten Black adults (45%) and Latinos (39%) say they have skipped meals or relied on charity or government food programs since February, including three in ten Black adults and about a quarter (26%) of Hispanics who say their experiences were directly related to the financial impact of coronavirus. Among those in households with an annual income under $40,000, nearly half (48%) say they have skipped meals or relied on charity or government food programs, including one-quarter who attribute this to coronavirus and a similar share (23%) who say they were already skipping meals or relying on food programs before the pandemic hit,” the survey said.
Figure 9: Large Shares Of Blacks, Hispanics, And Lower-Income Households Report Skipping Meals, Relying On Charity Due To The Coronavirus
In a separate report, we noted as many as 33% of those who filed for unemployment benefits as a result of virus-related job losses, have still not been paid out.
Recall, policymakers responded to the virus outbreak by offering $600 per week more in unemployment than usual. The goal was to keep food on tables and prevent social unrest.
Broke and hungry, millions of Americans flooded flood banks across the country in the last several months, in some cases, overburdening the entire food bank system:
We also said this on April 8: “A perfect storm is brewing deep in America, one where overwhelmed food bank networks could see supply chain disruptions that could trigger food shortages in various low-income regions, that would undoubtedly leave many people hangry – and possibly incite social unrest.”
A nation, where its working-poor is entirely broke and hungry, and even some of these folks are on the streets rioting across the country, certainly doesn’t bode well for those who believe a V-shaped recovery in the economy can be seen in the second half.