Updated Jun 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

States fight childhood hunger amid coronavirus pandemic

Billy Shore, CEO of the No Kid Hungry Campaign, and Rhonda Jackson, Louisiana Director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign.
Billy Shore, CEO of the No Kid Hungry Campaign, and Rhonda Jackson, Louisiana Director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign. Photo: Axios Screenshot

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated childhood hunger among many families for the first time, Rhonda Jackson, director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign in Louisiana, said Wednesday at an Axios virtual event.

What she's saying: "Louisiana was one in four children that faced childhood hunger. Now the rest of the country looks like that. And what that looks like in real-time is parents having to make the decision if they’re going to actually feed a kid or if they’re going to have to perhaps buy medicine."

  • "Our governor has been really instrumental in making sure that food and food nutrition was a part of the conversation. Making sure that families were able to provide meals to kids has been a long-standing issue for him. So I think that level, just making sure to work with their local government to make sure the programs are in place," Jackson told No Kid Hungry CEO Billy Shore.
Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and former first lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe.
Axios Founder and CEO Jim VandeHei and former first lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe. Photo: Axios screenshot

The big picture: Millions of children in the U.S. arrived at schools hungry even before the pandemic. Now families experiencing economic stress and unemployment are for the first time are seeking services and help to feed their families.

  • "There’s so much unemployment now, folks that never imagined they’d be unemployed are having to turn to food banks and think about SNAP benefits and other community organizations that are helping," former first lady in Virginia and national policy advisor for Share Our Strength Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, tells Axios CEO Jim Vandehei.

The state of play: Nonprofits and volunteers helping children directly have had to adjust their models to keep people safe during the pandemic by gathering protective equipment, creating drop-off routes for children unable to reach pick-up sites and scaling grab-and-go systems.

The bottom line: McAuliffe said awareness for childhood hunger is key to de-stigmatize the issue and help those find the resources they need. Others can also donate, volunteer or write to an elected official that has policymaking powers, she said.

Watch the event here.

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