MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In one in five homes nationwide, children are not getting enough food amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.
That number might be even higher in the Mid-South.
A long line of cars weaved through a rain-soaked parking lot off College Road for a mobile pantry, one of several locally Friday.
“A lot of families with children, of course, with school out, a lot of families depend on school to help supplement the food,” said food pantry organizer Tonya Dyson, executive director of the Memphis Slim Collaboratory. “We’re looking to feed 250 and 350 families today.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving child hunger to disturbing levels.
A new study from the Brookings Institute found nationwide, almost one in five households with children under 12 years old struggled to get food on the table.
What’s even more alarming, that statistic was already the case in the Mid-South before the pandemic, according to the Mid-South Food Bank.
Officials said the need rises more when school is out and meal programs are disrupted, and even more when a high unemployment rate is added to the mix.
“We are distributing about a million pounds a week,” Mid-South Food Bank CEO Cathy Pope said. “That is an enormous amount of food.”
Officials said 60% of that goes to families with children.
“Most kids were getting their lunch at school—most of what they were eating at school,” Venita Smith said.
The Mid-South Food Bank said it’s given food to families in every zip code.
“It’s just a mess everywhere,” said grandparent Jackie Miller, who was at the food pantry off College Road on Friday. “Everybody needs help in all kinds of forms and fashion.”