In America, 54 million people—roughly one out of every six—may experience food insecurity this year, meaning their ability to access enough food for a healthy lifestyle is either too limited or altogether uncertain. This reality results in a lack of nutrition that takes a toll, often in silent ways that aren’t recognized. Tiredness. Reduced immune response. Depression.
In the wake of COVID-19, the number of Americans at risk for malnutrition for the first time has risen. For instance, compared to 2018, in April of this year, nearly three times as many mothers with children 12 and under said the food they bought didn’t last long enough, and they couldn’t afford to buy more. In the LatinX community, pandemic-related reductions in the service industry and agricultural workforce were devastating. Forty-nine percent of LatinX adults suffered a pay cut or job loss compared to 33 percent of adults in the U.S. overall. The stark images of gridlocked cars outside overwhelmed food pantries during lockdown illustrated just how dire so many people’s ability to put dinner on the table has become. Places designed to be an emergency fail-safe had suddenly become the first line of defense for families across the country.
Communities that lack access to affordable, nutritious food are often fighting ingrained, systemic barriers to resources, tools and solutions they need. In an election year, it’s critical for us to raise our voice and advocate for change, while also creating space for them to speak out and speak up. According to research from the Food Research & Action Center of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Americans with the least access to nutritious food also have the lowest rate of voter registration. Knorr launched #FeedTheVote in October to drive action in a place where it counts: the ballot box.
But these communities need our support and action beyond a single election cycle. That’s why our fight for healthy food access goes much deeper than this particular moment in time. Here’s how we have and will continue to achieve progress.
Extending Our Reach with Committed Partners
For more than four decades, Knorr has worked with collaborators to bring good food to the people who need it. Together, we provide nutritious meals to families, offer cooking classes, tackle food policy issues and more. This year, with our partner Feeding America, we provided locally sourced lunches to more than 11,000 workers at 200 food banks across the country. We also expanded our work with BIPOC communities, which are historically disproportionately affected by food insecurity. For #FeedTheVote, we collaborated with UnidosUS, the nation’s largest nonpartisan Latino advocacy organization, to help these communities get the nutrition they deserve. UnidosUS has contributed to the enrollment of more than 25,000 Latinos in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the past year and have been influential in registering nearly 700,000 new eligible voters nationwide.
Expanding Education and Resources About Nutrition
Fighting for consistent access to nutritious food is a global issue so vast it can be difficult to grasp. Despite that, we must keep a focus on how progress can be achieved incrementally—and have a direct impact on individual lives. It’s critical that strides be made not just in the accessibility of healthy foods but also in people’s understanding of how nutrition impacts them. Through one of our localized grant recipients, more than 500 school children, many of whom live in historically under-resourced communities, were delivered Knorr ingredients to their homes so they could participate in cooking classes virtually during lockdown. These are small steps with big impact. We’re working to achieve systemic change, and that starts with education and access to information.
Showing Up in Communities That Need Us Most
Food deserts, or places where healthy foods are not readily available, are home to more than 23 million people in our country. The pandemic and its profound toll on businesses threatened to make this an even bigger issue as many small grocers struggled to survive. We saw how investments, like increasing a corner grocer’s refrigeration capacity, help make nutrition more accessible, and we knew we had to take action. Along with The Food Trust, we’re offering mini-grants and highlighting the stories of small grocery store owners. Knorr and The Food Trust are also expanding our reach across the country, including supporting a number of stores in the Navajo Nations’ healthy retail program, supplying inventory and other resources.
In the face of a pandemic, local communities have been a stronghold for finding purpose and togetherness. When we focus, not just on the 54 million people nationwide who don’t have a clear path to nutrition, but on our own neighbors, actionable solutions begin to take shape along with real change. This year, and every year, Knorr is committed to fighting for what we know all people deserve: nutritious and affordable food.