Economic strain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will likely leave an estimated 1.4 million New York City residents struggling to afford adequate food this year, according to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks.
Before the pandemic, in 2019, just over 1 million experienced food insecurity, meaning a lack of access to nutritionally adequate food, the group said.
Food insecurity is closely linked to unemployment, and while many sectors of the city’s economy have reopened, the labor market is still scarred, particularly for low-wage workers. New York City lost nearly 630,000 private-sector jobs in February compared with the prior year, according to the state Department of Labor, pushing the unemployment rate up nearly 10 percentage points, to 13%.
Enrollment in food-stamp benefits among city residents has increased nearly 12%, to 1.66 million recipients as of January, compared with the same month last year, according to the city Department of Social Services Human Resources Administration. Food Bank for New York City, which distributes food and operates anti-hunger programs through 1,000 pantries and other charities citywide, has provided nearly 100 million pounds of food since the start of the pandemic, a 61% increase over the same period the prior year, said Zac Hall, vice president of programs for the nonprofit.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think the same level of response that we have today is going to at least be needed for the next couple of years,” he said.
Source: WSJ – US News