Recent drone footage of New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas has shown long lines of people waiting to get a bit of food to fill up their empty refrigerators. These lines are yet another result of the pandemic. But deeply, these are the result of a capitalist system, that has been preying on people’s labor and lives like a vulture for centuries.
According to the data released by The Intercept, by the end of April, one in five American households were struggling with food insecurity. Similarly, according to a UN report titled “The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition,” one explanation of this data is a disruption of the food supply chain – where tons of gallons of milk have been dumped because switching from commercial to household distribution requires new equipment for these suppliers, and meat production plants have been stopped work, as workers got sick. Additionally, harvests lack labor as borders have closed down, making it even harder for immigrants – the main source of labor in the fields – to come in. All of this causes food prices to increase.
Empty refrigerators are also caused by unemployment. According to government statistics, the unemployment rate in the US is already at 13%, one of the highest rates ever, but in reality, it is much higher, as many are left out of this calculation. Some people are living on $179 per week, around $720 per month; barely enough to cover the price of food, medical services, transportation, and expenses for their children.
And of course this is not a crisis only in the U.S., but throughout the entire world. This same UN report shows that the number of people who are at risk of starvation is predicted to double by the end of the year.
The fact that our food system is fragile, extremely wasteful, and unequal, is no news. The fact that millions were living paycheck to paycheck before the crisis, is no news. But this pandemic has intensified these truths, and will claim the lives of more people as an indirect result.
We know the authorities and corporations have done nothing in the past to eliminate hunger, and are doing little now. So there is no time to wait – it is up to working people and the unemployed to take matters into their own hands. To demand and ensure food justice, where there has been none before.
featured image credit: William Luther / Express-News