PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new report from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank shows about one in six households struggles to put enough food on the table.
The pandemic took a significant toll on low-income households, with more than half of the jobs lost during the shutdown being in low-wage industries, according to the 2021 Status Report on Hunger. As a result, many families couldn’t afford basic living expenses and food insecurity reached its highest level in 20 years, with one in four households at risk of hunger.
While fewer households are in dire need this year, the report shows the overall prevalence of food insecurity is still far above pre-pandemic levels.
The report says Black and Latinx households were hit particularly hard, with 34% of both saying they’re unable to meet basic food needs.
It also shows hunger is high in families with children, with one in four unable to meet those needs.
Increases in federal benefits helped ease the burden for those who lost work due to the pandemic, according to the report. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program initially added $600 per week to state unemployment payments.
The extra benefits decreased food insecurity among the newly unemployed, but the report says food insecurity is expected to worsen as pandemic-related benefits end.