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Empowering Our Nurses

COVID-19 Presents Twin Problems of Hunger and Health

Gita Rampersad, JD, MHA

Vice President, Healthcare Partnerships & Nutrition of Feeding America

Jessica Hager, AM

Director, Healthcare Partnerships & Nutrition of Feeding America

Feeding America estimates 40 percent of individuals now served by food banks are new to charitable food assistance, and one in every six people could be food insecure in 2020. This new reality is devastating for many, yet familiar to the 37 million people in America already lacking consistent access to nutritious food. 

Feeding America is reminded of the compounding health impacts food insecurity adds to people living with diet-related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. A pre-COVID-19 study of people served by the Feeding America network of food banks revealed that of those households:

  • 79 percent of them are forced to purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food.
  • Many must choose between purchasing life-sustaining medications versus nutritious food.
  • 58 percent report at least one household member living with hypertension.
  • One in three report a member living with diabetes.

Just the beginning of bad

COVID-19 adds yet another complication. As many of our healthcare and food bank heroes already know, people with a diet-related disease who are also experiencing food insecurity are at a significantly higher risk of contracting and managing a severe illness — like this virus. 

That’s why Feeding America is working with federal, state, and local governments, disaster relief organizations, and many others to ensure everyone has access to produce, dairy, and protein — to keep communities healthy, avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, and save lives. 

Casting a wide net

Additionally, Feeding America formed a Public Health Task Force and is collaborating with national experts to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff and volunteers. We’re also working with national healthcare associations, such as the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association, to meet the needs of communities of color and populations determined high risk by the CDC.

We can’t succeed alone; partnerships are essential to meet people where they are right now. Feeding America remains committed to working with our healthcare heroes and first responders, so we approach the future stronger together.

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