Too often, when thinking of those experiencing food or housing insecurity, focus is placed on the personal choices that may place someone in a difficult situation. The truth is, the circumstances are most often out of any individual’s control and most Americans are closer to this reality than is easy to admit. It is estimated that 40% of families in the United States are only one missed paycheck away from poverty.

Sometimes, a major life event causes someone to become food and/or housing insecure. This might be an illness or death in the family, job loss or another challenge that reduces household income. Other times, a culmination of small events such as an increase in rent, an unexpected car repair or winter utility costs may be the final straw.

These existing uncertainties have been greatly magnified during the past 8 months of global economic turmoil due to COVID-19. An additional 6 million Americans now live in poverty. These numbers are expected to continue rising as personal savings and federal stimulus funds are exhausted. As household income decreases, the need for social services increases. In October, MCHPP served 970 visitors to the food pantry. This was a 20% increase from September and the single busiest month in our 35-year history.

There are many ways to help prevent and/or decrease food and housing insecurity: donate funds, volunteer your skills, advocate for change and more. This week we are encouraging the community to use their voices and spread the word about these challenges. Reach out to your elected officials, educate your friends & family or ask your local hunger relief organization how you can make a difference in their work.

– Kassandra Pierce