An additional 132 million people are likely to go hungry by the end of this year, representing an increase in food insecurity that might be more than triple ever experienced throughout this century. The health crisis has prompted major obstacles in the access of food products, such as the unexpected surge in hoarding tendencies that led to supply chain disruptions, natural disasters that decimated crops around the world, struggling economies, and the sharp decline in consumers’ purchasing power.
What makes this situation completely unparalleled is the fact that this is happening at a time of enormous global food surpluses. In theory, there’s enough food to feed the whole world’s population, but the number of those who can afford it has been steadily falling.
It is being projected that the sanitary outbreak will cause more casualties each day from hunger than from virus infections. By December, as many as 12,000 people could be fatally victimized per day from hunger linked to the outbreak’s effects, possibly more than those perishing from the virus itself.
The current crisis has only exacerbated the already deep wealth inequality gap, now separating groups into those who can afford to eat and those who can’t. Researchers found that the media-fed fear has triggered a second surge in the hoarding trend.
Anxious buying and food hoarding has not only affected the supply chain but also the amount of food waste produced in America. Supermarkets across the country have been stockpiling food and cleaning products to keep up consumers with demand.
On top of the economic downturn, lockdowns and broken supply chains have also enhanced the problem of food distribution. Also, the lack of seasonal migrant workers has made it impossible for farmers to harvest their entire produce, leading many of them to dump milk and smash eggs, left without viable alternatives to redirect their production to either grocery stores or food banks.
Most food banks rely on donations from food producers and grocery chains to deliver supplies to food-insecure households in many states, and ever since consumers started panic-buying huge amounts of food, donations have become scarce.
In face of such events, the UN forecasted that about a tenth of the world’s population won’t have access to enough food this year. The implications will transcend hunger itself and also reflect on other forms of food insecurity, with hundreds of millions unable to afford healthy diets, which might result in a spike of both malnutrition and obesity. By 2030, the number of undernourished people could reach as high as 909 million, and the effects of it will be long-lasting.
Increased malnutrition can debilitate the immune system, limit mobility, and even compromise brain functioning. Children who face malnutrition early in life can see its impact well into adulthood. Problems with physical and cognitive development in children and adolescents can undermine the chances of staying in school or getting a job, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
Additionally, global food prices rose for the third straight month, which also relates to the dollar collapse. When the purchasing power of the US dollar falls, commodity prices in USD tend to go up. With that said, considering that many U.S. households are already living in poverty, they can’t adjust their realities to keep up with increasingly high food costs. The American middle class isn’t far behind and when the masses go hungry and can’t find the means to feed themselves and their families, they take it to the streets.
The idea of not having the most basic needs for survival, such as food, fresh water, and shelter lead groups to react in desperation. And ever since stimulus talks have been indefinitely postponed aggravating the uncertainty about their situation, it appears that storm clouds are emerging on the horizon.