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Over the decade preceding the pandemic, the number of people in the U.S. relying on subsidiary benefits such as SNAP, free meals from schools, and food pantries have been increasing. This gradually increasing need over time has been accelerating and was exacerbated by the pandemic. With the pandemic causing increased unemployment and forcing school closures, the number of people reliant on food resources outside of those provided by the government have increased. SNAP recipients reliant on sources outside of food stamps, rose from 27% to 60% between 2018 and October of 2020. Between March 9 and March 23 of 2020, the first weeks where schools across the nation closed, an estimated 169.6 million meals were missed. This sudden increase, compared to the gradual increase of the past few years has placed immense pressure on non-governmental organizations. Preliminary results show that volunteer numbers and the amount of donations began to decrease starting in fall of 2020. Coupled with the increased needs of community members these changes could make more organizations susceptible to closure, if they are unable to operate efficiently. To study the changes these institutions are undergoing to meet increased needs, and to uncover the implications of these changes, I will survey the Lee Barta Community Center, Catholic Charities Food Pantry, CHOW and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, all organizations across Broome County. I will measure changes in volunteers, transportation, storage, distribution and funding through survey collection. I will also interview members of these organizations and synthesize data from previous research done before and after March of 2020. Distribution protocols have also changed with the creation of new routes to reach people in quarantine. What I expect to see is an overall increase in dependence on food organizations, and a decreased capacity to meet these needs.


Part of the 2021 Research Days Source Project People, Politics, and the Environment.