Oxfam, an international confederation of charities dedicated to the fight against poverty, noted that this hit may be greater than the number of victims claimed by the disease itself. In a world that was already struggling with issues of inequality and poverty, the health crisis has pushed millions over the edge, robbing them of job security, homes, and loved ones. Food producers and workers in particular have been devastated by extended closures of facilities since they tend to be breeding grounds for the pandemic with their close quarters and lack of safety measures to stop the spread.
Already, we have begun to see the effects of the pandemic on food supply, and it is not only affecting places that already had high rates of hunger. Images from the United States now look more like a third world country, with thousands waiting in lines to receive basic essentials like groceries, unemployment benefits, or rapid tests.
Of course, these lines also pose serious health risks. At this later stage in the pandemic, many people have forgone masks, and those monitoring the lines are less likely to be distributing hand sanitizer or even mandating social distancing measures. The caution exhibited earlier this year has fallen by the wayside in many cases. While some citizens are too paranoid to put themselves at risk, for many there is no other choice.
Food banks across the country have documented lines of cars that stretch for miles. Testing sites require citizens to queue for hours in the summer heat. Local government offices are so flooded with new filings for unemployment benefits that many people have to wait full days in line, and even then may find themselves returning the next day after failing to secure an in-person appointment. Websites and phone lines are overwhelmed and the entire system seems to be coming apart at the seams.
In this video, we are going to discuss the darker sides of the pandemic. We have already seen many side effects of the next Great Depression, but things will only continue to get worse as poverty and hunger grip the globe. We are going to give you the data and the expert predictions, and tell you how you can prepare for the food shortages to come.
There are three major challenges that will lead to a spike in starvation-related issues.
First, the record rates of unemployment have left many Americans dependent on stimulus packages and unemployment benefits from the state and federal governments in order to pay rent, purchase groceries, and handle other basic expenses. However, some are more at risk than others. Gig workers and members of the informal economy do not enjoy the same level of social support. Furthermore, backlog in the system means that, for many, aid payments have been delayed or remain unprocessed.
Second, the world’s food supply chain has been severely disrupted by the pandemic. In the US, meat processing plants have been hit particularly hard. According to a report released by The Guardian earlier this month, over 36,000 meat processing and farm workers have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, and the real numbers are likely even higher. A staggering 17,300 of these cases occurred in April and May, but many of the facilities that closed temporarily and then reopened experienced second waves. These outbreaks are due in large part to the conditions at processing plants, in which every 1,000 square feet of manufacturing space is filled with 3.2 workers. This figure is three times the national average, and makes spread much more likely.
Third, travel restrictions both domestically and internationally make it difficult for humanitarian aid to be distributed to all of the many places where it is desperately needed. These lockdowns also impact farmers, who rely on free-flowing transportation to sell and deliver their goods, and workers who are unable to show up and do their jobs.
When you factor in other worsening world issues like geopolitical tensions, climate change, and inequality, the situation looks even more dire. All of these run the risk of putting further stress on the global cooperation and trade that is needed to address starvation and poverty.
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