One in six adults and one in four children are malnourished. The number of hungry people has doubled over the year.
Shayna Savage from Weymouth, Massachusetts is a mother of two. One boy is 6 months old, the other is a year and a half. The second baby was born this summer. The husband lost his job. Now they do their best to feed their children. Shayna sometimes gets food from a local charity. She says that if it weren't for the volunteers, they wouldn't have any food at home. The pandemic is to blame for this. The Savage family, like millions of other Americans, because of lockdowns and growing unemployment, cannot even earn money for bread.
Catherine D'Amato, president of the charity Greater Boston Food bank, says she has never seen anything like this in her 40 years with the organization. “I have worked in many disaster areas, during hurricanes and floods, but I have never seen such a disaster in every city, in every state, in every county”, - says Catherine.
Before the pandemic, the foundation supplied 550 food distribution points, supplying them with 500 kilograms of food per week. Now supplies have grown by two and a half times. Donors also provide food for Norfolk County, where Weymouth is located. Norfolk has become famous throughout the country, but no one needs such fame: since 2018, hunger among children has grown by 168 percent. These are the highest rates in all of America, according to a study by the Feed America Foundation. Although the pandemic was not the cause of the famine, it made the situation much worse.
Pamela Denholme, who works at a food distribution point in Weymouth, said that they had felt the worsening of the situation since March.
“New and new people began to come to us”, - she says. "The middle class has been hit by the pandemic across America." People who have come for the first time often stand in line. Many of them have lost their jobs or are working on a shorter schedule. Many are ashamed that they have to ask for help.
“A lot of people in our county work in the service. These are restaurants, hairdressers, beauticians, manicurists. These are all either family businesses or self-employed. It was they who suffered the most”, - says Pamela.
The same situation is in the neighboring town. Suzanne Dietrich, who works for charity, says: “More and more families are coming to us. During the pandemic, I often saw them come with their children. Imagine, there is a young mother, and she has three small children. Children cannot take their eyes off the food".
Suzanne cried: “And mommy is trying. She has never had this, and she wants to be strong for her children. And she does everything to feed them. It's very hard for me to look at this".
Jaheira Lopez knows this firsthand. She is raising one 11-year-old twins with developmental disabilities. “Everyone in my house runs, and everything flies and explodes. We have a lot of fun". Two years ago, Lopez co-founded a food dispenser in her town when she realized how many people were undernourished. Now that she herself has lost her job, she herself has to take food from her distribution point, and she is very worried because others may not like it.
“I have three academic degrees, and I always thought that I would find some job. And suddenly it turned out that I myself am in exactly the same situation as many American families".
Lopez tells her story with a smile, but she herself admits that she often just wants to cry. “But mothers cannot cry. They just don't have time for that". Therefore, she cries, locked in the bathroom.
Pamela Denholme recalls how at the beginning of the pandemic she received a call from a 90-year-old resident who often came to buy groceries herself and told Pamela to give her groceries to families with children who need them. “Who can, having nothing himself, help others? And she calls and says, there are children who are starving, give them food".
People help. After a TV spot about a charity, one TV viewer sent a truckload of food.
Suzanne Dietrich believes that the authorities should help more, and the law passed by Congress will not be able to help everyone, leaving hungry children behind. The government is doing too little to support the hungry.
If humanity has been able to create a vaccine against coronavirus in such a short period of time, she says, then we simply have to establish a supply of food for everyone in need.
Many families in America are separated from bankruptcy by a single new account, and in the pandemic it became obvious, says Catherine D'Amato. Hunger is a big problem, but it can be solved if there is political will.
Meanwhile, trucks are bringing new food to starving people, children who cannot be explained why Santa Claus cannot fix what collapsed during the pandemic.