By APD writer Imdad Hussain
The world’s largest economy, the US, is facing extreme hunger and poverty as the economic activities have been affected due to the corona pandemic while many forecast dark days ahead due to continued economic shutdowns.
In certain cases, bread-earners have become victim to coronavirus and their families are in trouble as they cannot run their houses and pay rents while some of them, who are already suffering from some disease, cannot go out for work due to fatality of coronavirus.
On the other hand, during the past eight or nine weeks 36 million people have become jobless while there is an apprehension that the real number is more than this figure.
According to a 2018 report, 37.2 million people including 1.12 million belong to such families who are facing food shortage and the uncertainty in availability of food in the US means that appropriate food is not available for a healthy life.
The institution Feeding America opines that the 37.2 million number could rise and this year one out of four children would be facing hunger. In Texas, 10 thousand people gather outside food distributing banks and in Florida there are miles long queues of cars for getting food from these banks.
Experts say that the food stamp program launched by the federal government is insufficient which aims at providing food support to people which they can get from shops in normal days.
On the contrary, in the US city of Wisconsin milkmen are forced to waste thousands of gallons of milk due to closure of milk pasteurization plants as there are not enough buyers. In Florida, fresh beans crop was ploughed down and in California no crops were harvested at all and were left to burn out.
Similar reports are received from other parts of the country as in Minnesota 10 thousand pigs were killed while millions of chickens were done away with also because meatpacking plants were closed.
Caitlin Welsh, Director Global Food Security Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Washington, says that Americans are amazed over this situation as on hand they are wasting away food while on the other they are facing food scarcity.
She says they have abundant food and vegetables and even animals for meat-loving countries but the issue is that of supply chain, how to provide them these commodities. The US government has provided 19 billion dollars aid to farmers under coronavirus food aid program while it also talked about buying fresh dairy and meat produce and to distribute these among people.
People are facing difficulties despite aid from the government. According to a Pakistan-based organization, ICNA, many families are in extreme difficulty due to limited resources and non-availability of funds.
This philanthropist organization has helped five lakh people during the past two months. Those without citizenship documents are even in the worst state as they are not entitled to any help from the government.
In the Muslim month of Ramazan when Iftar is usually arranged mosques and everyone could come and join it but this time around mosques remained closed as no Iftar was arranged.
The ICNA is providing non-perishable items to the needy which include dates, flour, sugar, cooking oil, rice, pulses, eggs, vegetables and fruits, ensuring that the food is sufficient for two weeks needs of a family comprising five members.
However, philanthropist organizations and food banks are thronged by people as according to Greater Pittsburg Community Food Bank, one such organization, working in 11 counties in Pennsylvania the number of seeking food aid has increased five hundred per cent --- in normal circumstances it spent 5-6 lac dollars on food distribution in March and April but this year during the same months the amount spent was 17 lac dollars.
Experts say that the people will be benefitted when they will start receiving 2.3 trillion dollars aid announce by the government but reportedly so far people did not receive aid cheques as online information tells them it is under process.
The aid organizations are also facing difficulties besides there are problems in the supply system as a number of their orders have been cancelled. Another serious concern is that in the coming days nutritious food may not be within reach of people as in difficult times people minimize their expenditure and spend less on food.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)