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Healthcare coverage from WYPR is made possible by support from GBMC HealthCare.

Two years into the pandemic, food insecurity remains high

Courtesy of Maryland Food Bank
Courtesy of Maryland Food Bank

Food insecurity may be affecting 2 million Marylanders, roughly a third of the population, as a result of the pandemic.

Carmen Del Guercio, president and CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, said demand for the food bank’s services has “probably never been higher in our history.”

“If you think back to March of ‘20, we got shot out of a cannon,” he said. “Demand went through the roof almost immediately.”

And Del Guerico said 68% of the food bank’s community partners tell him that demand may only grow in the coming months.

With high inflation, supply chain disruptions and COVID-19 variants, the recovery may be bumpy. Del Guercio said after the 2008 Great Recession, it took five to six years before demand went to pre-recession levels.

“Experts out there indicate that recovery here will be a lot faster,” he said. “But when that's going to happen, how long it will take, really remains to be seen.”

Del Guercio said federal and state government support during the pandemic – including enhanced unemployment benefits, eviction moratoriums and stimulus checks – helped, but mostly in the short term.

Addressing food insecurity, he said, starts with other solutions, whether that be more equitable housing and health, childcare or transportation access.

“We will have to be focused on providing more support than just food,” he said.

In addition to government aid, Del Guercio said individual donations are critical.

“Financial support still has the longest term impact on our ability to serve,” Del Guercio said. “That's the best way people can help us both today and tomorrow.”

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.