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A Pandemic of Hunger

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a global plague of a different sort: food insecurity. Stepping up efforts to ensure food security for all is essential to preventing the COVID-19 crisis from becoming a humanitarian calamity.

URBANA, ILLINOIS – Around the world, food insecurity is spiking. Experts predict that the number of hungry people will double during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout Africa, governments struggle to provide for the neediest. In Burkina Faso, which at one point had the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 2.1 million people don’t have enough to eat. In Nairobi, people are fighting over their next meal. In Cape Town, police recently clashed with residents who didn’t receive parcels of rice, beans, oil, and other supplies.

But it is not just Africa. The tragedy is unfolding on screens across the globe. In Phoenix, cars begin lining up two hours before boxes with non-perishables were distributed. In Ohio, more than 4,000 people recently waited for hours to pick up packages of cereal, oatmeal, and pasta.

It is urgent that leaders find ways to ensure sufficient food supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. Because of lockdowns, sickness, and lost incomes, hunger will rise. And, because developed and developing countries are equally affected, we must find solutions together.

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