Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia’s food insecurity rate stood at 9.9%, meaning that over 842,000 people had to worry where their next meal would come from on any given day. With the average cost of a meal in Virginia being $3.10, Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” concluded that an additional $442,908,000 would be needed to meet the state’s food needs.
Every day, families join the ranks of the working poor; these are individuals who can’t make ends meet or who find themselves forced to make difficult choices after suffering devastating personal or financial crises beyond their control.
2020 has been a particularly catastrophic year for those experiencing hunger insecurity. According to a study by Northwestern Institute for Policy, the number of people experiencing hunger in Virginia sky-rocketed from 9.9% in February to more than 22% in June. In addition, there are roughly 450,000 children across our state that rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school day, and with the disruption to the school schedule, we know they are at serious risk.