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More Than 1 in 3 Coloradans Faces Food Insecurity During Pandemic

School closures in Colorado led to the loss of free and reduced-price school meals for more than 350,000 students. (Pixabay)
School closures in Colorado led to the loss of free and reduced-price school meals for more than 350,000 students. (Pixabay)
August 6, 2020

DENVER -- More than 37% of Coloradans currently are struggling to afford food, compared with 11% during the Great Recession, and hunger-fighting advocates are calling on Congress to extend food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ellie Agar, communications director for Hunger Free Colorado, said families and people of color have taken the biggest hit from the health emergency's economic fallout.

"Statewide, we've seen about 20% of families are having to skip or cut back on meals," Agar said. "And even harder hit are Black and Hispanic and indigenous households. Some of those rates are more than double what we're seeing across the state."

Four in ten Colorado parents say they've had to skip meals because there wasn't enough money for food, according to a new survey conducted by Kupersmit Research.

Nearly a quarter of parents reported they also had to cut back on their children's meals. Early aid packages passed by Congress temporarily increased SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, for some families. But Agar said those benefits could expire unless Congress acts.

More than half of parents surveyed are not sure they'll be able to cover basic expenses in coming weeks and months, despite being okay prior to COVID-19.

Agar says expanding SNAP benefits by 15% also would help local economies because for every dollar spent at grocery stores or farm stands, $1.50 is generated in economic activity.

"Investing in these nutrition programs helps not only our communities but our economy," Agar said. "It's making sure that families can get the nutrition they need, so that we're getting money back into our economy to help our state recover as a whole."

Agar's group also is calling on Congress to extend Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer assistance through the upcoming school year, which helps families purchase food that kids normally would get at school. School closures across Colorado have resulted in the loss of free and reduced-price school meals for more than 350,000 students.

Disclosure: Hunger Free Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO