How You Can Find Food Assistance During the Coronavirus

two young girls standing by palettes of food
| 7 min read Financial Assistance

Millions of people are feeling the devastating effects of the pandemic right now, and among all of the issues caused or worsened by this crisis, food insecurity has emerged as one of the most pressing. As a result of record-high unemployment, the closure of small businesses, and lockdown rules, many people are finding it hard to afford basics like food. If you’re like one of the many people who are struggling to find food assistance during the coronavirus, there is help out there for you. Here we’ve highlighted key resources and must-know information about how you and your family can receive the help that is needed today.

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Why has food insecurity become such a big issue?

First, the problem of food insecurity is something that predates coronavirus, but the crisis has made this issue exponentially worse. According to Feeding America, 14.3 million households in America faced food insecurity in 2018. In the wake of the crisis and the economic impact, the picture of food insecurity becomes even more dire. With an estimated 22 million people out of work and businesses shut down, the most vulnerable in our communities are now facing hunger as a daily reality. 

One study found that the pandemic has left many children in America hungry, and one in five households are experiencing some level of food insecurity. Respondents to this study indicated the food they bought did not last as long as they thought and they did not have the money to purchase more; and/or children in the household were not getting enough food because they could not afford to buy more. 

The problem is also worsened when you consider the current state of food banks, which typically can be counted on by struggling families for food donations. Across the country, local food banks have seen their supplies run low and demand is only increasing as the economy worsens, according to Reuters. All of this has created a perfect storm for families and individuals needing food assistance during the coronavirus crisis.

Where to get free food during the coronavirus

If you’re like one of the millions of families that doesn’t have an income right now and you can’t afford food during the coronavirus, there are ways to find free or low-cost food options. Local nonprofit organizations, government assistance programs, and even fundraising are good places to start if you need help getting food during COVID-19.

Find organizations that provide free meals or food

A great place to get started is by becoming familiar with local food pantries and other organizations that are providing meals or food items. Sometimes finding where to get free food or meals during the coronavirus comes down to doing a quick Google search, but you can also check sites for national organizations that are dedicated to providing food to those in need. Here are just a few you can reference: 

  • Feeding America’s food bank directory is a great place to start your search. By typing in your zip code or using their interactive map, you can locate a food bank near you 
  • Foodpantries.org also lists food pantries and food banks by state
  • The USDA also has a hub dedicated to hunger relief organizations. The list includes some familiar names like Feeding America along with other reliable and trusted organizations.

Once you find the nearest food bank or pantry, contact them and see if they have a waiting list, upcoming events, or if they have sufficient supplies. In some areas, food banks are experiencing long lines, or they are running low on food to give out.

Government food assistance programs

If you haven’t looked into it yet, government food assistance programs are always worth pursuing. You will need to qualify for these programs, but they are typically a reliable way to get help if you’re having trouble getting adequate food and meals. 

  • SNAP: One of the most well-known programs, SNAP provides low-income families with vouchers in order to access healthy food. To apply for SNAP, you’ll need to contact your local office and they can determine eligibility. To find your local office visit SNAP’s state directory and locate the nearest office. 
  • WIC: For families with young children, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may be the best option. As with SNAP, you will need to contact your local office or call the toll free number to contact your state WIC agency. 

Whatever program you decide to apply for, it’s important that you apply as soon as possible. These programs have seen a big surge in application requests since the start of the pandemic, making it harder to get benefits for some.

How to get free food during the coronavirus through your community

Whether it’s getting food or direct financial help during the coronavirus pandemic, your community can play an important role in providing support. There are a few easy ways you can leverage your community, while also keeping yourself and others safe.

Social media

Facebook and apps like Nextdoor can help you reach out to neighbors, family, and friends. By searching for groups in your local community, you can post requests for help, including requests for information about where to get free food or meals during the coronavirus. Nextdoor has even created a guide about how to use the app to support your neighborhood during the crisis.

Create an online fundraiser 

Using crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, you can start a fundraiser to get relief and pay for food expenses. There are already countless examples of COVID-19 relief fundraisers across GoFundMe and many are to support families just like yours. Getting started only takes a few minutes and you can start sharing with your family and friends immediately to get support.

How you can help hungry families during the coronavirus

For those who are in a position to help hungry families during the coronavirus crisis, there are plenty of ways to support our vulnerable families.

Donate to food banks

Find out what food banks need by reaching out to them directly, before you purchase items or drive out to make donations. What food banks need may vary based on your location, but if contacting them is not possible you can also find online resources to get an idea of what to donate and what foods to avoid.

Donate to fundraisers for families in need

With millions of low-income families in need of coronavirus relief, there’s no shortage of fundraisers that you can donate to. By making a donation to families and individuals affected by the coronavirus, you’re ensuring they get the money directly and are able to use it almost immediately. 

There are also large-scale fundraising efforts such as America’s Food Fund that are collecting monetary contributions. With the collaboration of organizations, like No Kid Hungry and the Urban School Food Alliance, the goal is to provide food assistance during the coronavirus to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Start a fundraiser for a family or individual in need

If you have time to help, consider starting a fundraiser for an individual or family struggling with food insecurity during COVID-19. You can also support loved ones during the coronavirus by fundraising for them. With so many people out of work, you’re likely to know someone who is in need right now.

Get support with food insecurity today

Whether you need food assistance during the coronavirus crisis or you’re in a position to help, fundraising is one of the easiest ways to find relief. Starting a fundraiser is easy, and you can receive funds quickly. With free fundraising on GoFundMe, you can sign up and start raising money for yourself or someone you care about today.

Start a COVID-19 fundraiser