Chad Higdon, the chief executive officer of Missouri’s Second Harvest Community Food Bank, testified before the House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management earlier today. The hearing shed light on the successes and challenges of community organizations and advocacy groups responding to the needs of vulnerable communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Higdon shared with the panel that Second Harvest Community Food Bank has experienced an exponential growth in need for food assistance in the wake of the pandemic’s twin public health and economic crises. “The estimated food insecurity rate for Second Harvest’s service territory in 2018 was 13 percent of the total population. For 2020 we expect that number to increase by 40 percent to an estimated 18.3 percent of the population — and 26.5 percent of the children — living in our 19 counties facing hunger.”
Higdon thanked lawmakers for passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, recognizing those measures as important first steps for addressing growing food insecurity across the country and the capacity of the charitable food sector to meet that growing need. At the same time, he also stressed the importance of ensuring that the nation’s hunger-relief response remains a top priority for Congress, cautioning that, “Our biggest concern is that the increased demand will remain heading into 2021, while much of the support we received in the current year will not.”
Higdon shared the significant contributions of National Guard troops deployed to support emergency feeding activities at Second Harvest Community Food Bank and food banks across the country. He further stressed the urgent need for those deployments to continue, noting that, “With National Guard support we can increase distributions and move product more quickly so that it reaches families needing support in a timely manner.”
Higdon closed by urging Congress to invest in the capacity of food banks to meet continuing community needs and be better prepared to respond to future disaster situations. He said, “Specifically, we are seeing a significant need at food banks and partner agencies across the country to acquire the coolers, freezers, trucks, and trailers necessary to efficiently store and distribute food across their service areas.” He noted that an investment of $543,250,000 would support the rental, lease, and purchase of essential assets necessary for food banks and partner hunger-relief organizations across the country to continue meeting the needs of food insecure individuals and families.
Second Harvest Community Food Bank is a member of Feeding America’s network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.