Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased the chances of a patient being food insecure. While Feeding America reported the lowest levels of food insecurity since the Great Recession in 2019, the pandemic reversed that progress. Now, nationally, over 54 million individuals, including 18 million children, risk food insecurity this year.
COVID-19 is contributing to food insecurity in the cancer community in more ways than the affordability of food. As much of the country stocked up on groceries in response to the uncertainty of this unprecedented situation, the food left on the shelves had more preservatives and sugar along with lower nutritional values. This didn’t leave much of the healthy, nutritious foods that cancer patients need to boost their weakened immune systems.
On top of limited supplies, the grocery store is now an especially intimidating environment for someone with an immunocompromised child at home. For families where the parent is the patient, the additional strength required to stand in long lines just to enter grocery stores creates more barriers to the food they need. While ordering groceries online eliminates infection risk, the additional costs for delivery and service fees become yet another financial side effect of cancer to manage.
We often hear from families who face these barriers to essential nutritional needs, and alleviating this burden requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach. As we explore new solutions today, for example, we’re considering not only the cost of food but also the full impact of the pandemic on the cancer community.
Partnering to overcome food insecurity for cancer patients
Our services can help families manage food-related costs so they are at a lower risk of food insecurity during treatment — and the generosity of our partners in the food sector allows us to do even more.
Meal kit deliveries, for example, check all the right boxes for families facing cancer during the pandemic. Thanks to the generosity of our partners at Splendid Spoon, we are conducting a pilot program with families in New York and Boston to deliver plant-based, ready-to-eat meals right to their door.
B&W Quality Growers and The Farmer’s Hen, on the other hand, contribute to the long-term growth of our mission by raising both awareness and funds. Keep an eye out for B&W’s greens with our logo on the bag, and when you see The Farmer’s Hen eggs in your refrigerated section, know that a portion of every sale throughout the entire year is donated to Family Reach.