Food insecurity has nearly doubled in our area since the start of the pandemic

PITTSBURGH — It’s hard to forget the long lines at the Pittsburgh Food Bank’s distribution events at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, so many people in our community still need help, a need that has only increased.

“Feeding America has estimated that food insecurity has increased by 42-percent in our region and we’re seeing that every week, every day that we have a distribution,” said Adam Morgan, the advocacy coordinator for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The new COVID-19 Relief Bill passed by Congress includes food relief for struggling families.

The 15-percent increase each month in SNAP benefits has been extended until September of this year, which amounts to about $25 extra per person each month.

It also includes $5 billion to maintain and expand a pandemic program, which provides grocery vouchers to replace school breakfast and lunches for families learning remotely, as well as $880 million for the nutrition program for women, infants and children, otherwise known as WIC.

Food banks will also receive $37 million to provide meal boxes to low-income elderly Americans.

“It’s vitally important to not only the people we serve but also the food bank in helping us manage demand,” Morgan said.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank would like to see some of the programs continue on a permanent basis, like the voucher program to provide meals for hungry children during the summer.

Morgan said one of the best things about his job is being able to see the direct impact it has on families. He recalled a time when he was able to help a mom buy her daughter, who was turning 10, a birthday cake.

“Maybe you don’t think about how hunger or poverty can affect the household, something so small as being able to buy a birthday cake,” he said. “It made me happy to work for the food bank that day.”

11 Cares is partnering with the food bank to host a virtual food drive. If you’d like to donate, CLICK HERE.