The number of Hispanic and Black families without enough food to eat surged in 2020, the U.S. government said on Wednesday.
The uptick in minority food insecurity comes after the pandemic shut down businesses and left millions of laid-off Americans looking for ways to put food on the table.
Although minorities suffered to find ways to provide meals for their families, overall food insecurity in the U.S. was unchanged from 2019 at 10.5-percent, the lowest level since the Great Recession, Reuters says.
The U.S. government avoided a higher national hunger rate by spending billions of dollars on federal aid programs ranging from food buying to cash payments and expanded school lunch availability, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) annual Household Food Security in the United States report.
While 20 percent of Americans received charitable food assistance during the pandemic in 2020, Black and Hispanic families, and many in the south, faced an ongoing hunger struggle, Feeding American reported.
In the report, more than one in four Black households with children were food insecure at some point in 2020, which means they had to skip a meal or had less to feed their families. Hispanic families with children facing hunger jumped 28 percent to more than one in five.
And furthermore, Black people, especially Black women, are more likely to be essential frontline workers and more likely to work in the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, Feeding America said in a report.
Due to the hunger crisis caused by the pandemic, the USDA spent $4 billion on food for food banks in 2020, which served 60 million people in 2019, a 50 percent increase compared to 2019, according to Feeding America. And in 2020, the USDA also spent 20 times more than it normally does to provide school meals to students.
While the USDA is doing its part to keep minorities and other Americans' heads above water, on Sept. 4 when the many people lost federal unemployment aid benefits worry the safety net was removed too quickly.