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Chester County Press

Give, if you can

05/19/2020 12:27AM ● By Steven Hoffman

The number of Americans who are struggling with food insecurity has been soaring during the coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple surveys.

Slightly more than 20 percent of U.S. households reported food insecurity last month. That’s a higher percentage than when the country was going through the Great Recession a decade ago, when food insecurity levels were usually around 15 percent.

There are millions of children in those households that reported having difficulty securing enough food. When food insecurity is an issue for a family, there are difficult trade-offs to be made. Often, a family will sacrifice other basic needs in order to put food on the table.

The economic shutdown that was undertaken to slow the spread of the coronavirus has hit millions of American families hard, and those who have been hit the hardest are those who could afford it the least. Food banks nationwide have reported a sharp increase in demand.

To the credit of the American people, there has been an outpouring of support to help those in need.

We’ve all seen reports about local, state, and federal efforts to get food to those who need it. 

Locally, the Chester County Intermediate Unit has been distributing breakfast and lunch to students, just as school districts across Pennsylvania have continued to provide meals to students and families in the community, even as school buildings have been closed. Companies like Giant have made large donations. Wawa and Sheetz, the convenience store rivals, teamed up to help make food donations to Pennsylvanians. Numerous local businesses have been making donations to hospitals and local nonprofits, including some restaurants that have been devastated by the economic shutdowns themselves.

Here in southern Chester County, residents are fortunate to have gold standard organizations like the Kennett Area Community Service and the Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center, both of which have provided thousands of families with assistance to meet their basic needs. These are places where residents can turn when they need help the most.

In recent weeks, in order to help families impacted by the economic shutdown, Kennett Area Community Service has partnered with local non-profits to organize the collection and distribution of shelf-stable foods each Wednesday and Thursday at the Kennett YMCA.

The United Way of Southern Chester, like the Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center and the Kennett Area Community Service, has been providing invaluable assistance in meeting the needs of local residents. The United Way of Southern Chester County COVID-19 Response Fund was established to meet the fast-changing needs of nonprofits that are on the front lines when it comes to providing emergency assistance to residents when it’s needed. 

There’s no doubt that the outpouring of support has helped families during the early weeks of crisis, but the needs are great—more than one in five households are experiencing food insecurity so the needs continue.

If you can, make a financial donation to an organization like the United Way of Southern Chester County, the Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center, or the Kennett Area Community Service.

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