Hunger impacts people in every corner of the country. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with August’s devastating derecho, we expect over 52,000 of our neighbors in northeast Iowa to be at risk of experiencing hunger.

That’s why the Northeast Iowa Food Bank joins Feeding America® food banks nationwide this September to take part in Hunger Action Month and inspire people to take action and bring attention to the reality of food insecurity in America. This year’s campaign comes at a critical time when the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt millions of people living paycheck to paycheck. Due to staggering unemployment rates, Feeding America estimates an additional 17 million people could be food insecure in 2020 as a result of this crisis, bringing the total up to 54 million people.

“It’s entirely likely that there is a crisis coming unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression. 43,000 people didn’t have enough to eat before northeast Iowa weathered the pandemic and our recent derecho,” said Barb Prather, Executive Director of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

“By the end of 2020, 1 in 7 of our neighbors will face hunger. In 2019, it was 1 in 19.”

“An additional 9,000 people, including over 5,000 more children, will now experience the grim reality of hunger. Looking ahead, we can expect a 21% increase in demand,” stated Prather. “But this won’t stop us. We are here for the long haul. And Hunger Action Month is one of the first steps of that long journey.”

“We know COVID-19, and the aftermath of the derecho, will have lasting impacts on our community. With elevated unemployment and poverty rates, we predict a surge in need that will last years,” noted Prather. “We don’t want to just endure this crisis-we want to come out stronger and in a better position to serve our community.”

The Food Bank also wants to emphasize the importance of volunteerism during these times. With a staff of roughly 35 full and part time employees, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank’s work encompasses a 16 county service area, through the work of 8 different programs that are specialized to feed children, seniors, families, and individuals, in both urban and rural northeast Iowa. Amidst a surge in the need for assistance, the Food Bank wants to extend an invitation to anyone who is interested in volunteering, emphasizing that help is needed now more than ever before.

To learn more about the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and other ways you can get involved for Hunger Action Month in northeast Iowa, please visit http://northeastiowafoodbank.org/events/hungeractionmonthor HungerActionMonth.org.