The food bank response to COVID, by the numbers

A volunteer at a Mobile Pantry hosted by Northwest Arkansas Food Bank holding a box of produce
March 12, 2021
by Paul Morello

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of our neighbors are facing hunger - many for the first time. And yet, it is so important to remember that there is also hope. Because of you, Feeding America and food banks across the country are making sure our neighbors impacted by the crisis have the food they need. At a time when so many people are visiting food banks for the first time, your support is driving our strong daily response. Want to know just how much we've done together? Check out some stats below.

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1. In 2020, food banks nationwide distributed 6 billion meals to our neighbors facing hunger in the United States  

Six billion meals are enough to provide every single resident of the United States with breakfast, lunch and dinner for just over six days. Because of the pandemic, we've seen a tremendous increase in the amount of people visiting food banks. And in many cases, those people are visiting for the first time. In fact, in the early days of the pandemic, 4 in 10 people visiting food banks were there for the first time.

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2. Food banks across the country are serving 55 percent more people now than before the pandemic

Over the past year, many of our neighbors have faced a difficult realization: for the first time, they won't be able to afford food for themselves or their family, as layoffs and business closures have interrupted the incomes of many Americans. But, a year into the pandemic, food banks are now accustomed to the increased number of people they are serving. In fact, Feeding America and food banks are on pace to distribute 6.5 billion meals in 2021. 

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3. As a result of the pandemic, Feeding America estimates 1 in 8 Americans could face hunger

That's 42 million people in the United States, including 13 million children, who may face hunger in 2021. As simple as that stat is, it’s also one of the most stunning. Because of COVID, millions of people are visiting food banks and many of them are getting help for the first time. Our neighbors who previously had stable incomes have now lost jobs or had their hours cut back. And food banks are stepping up, as they always have, to put food on the table for those who need it during this uncertain time. 

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4. Nearly two-thirds of Feeding America food banks across the country are accepting volunteers.  

Many food banks need your help and have volunteer opportunities available right now! Before the pandemic, food banks relied on the generous time of nearly 2 million volunteers per month. Since COVID-19, volunteer numbers are down, but the need is even higher, as many regular volunteers are in the higher-risk category and are staying home. And there are many ways to help food banks right now in person or at home, including donating to our response fund.

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