Hunger in the Time of COVID-19: “Everybody Just Wants These Kids to Be Fed”

Pictured: Dior and Shawn, whose mother, Crystal, is continuing to work at a food pantry throughout the coronavirus crisis. Photo credit: Lauren Santucci

Pictured: Dior and Shawn, whose mother, Crystal, is continuing to work at a food pantry throughout the coronavirus crisis. Photo credit: Lauren Santucci

April 2, 2020

In Athens County, Ohio, as in many communities across America, hunger was an acute problem even before the coronavirus crisis hit.

With schools shut down in an effort to help stem the COVID-19 outbreak, what’s happening to kids for whom school meals were their only reliable source of food?

Filmmaker Jezza Neumann has been on the ground in Athens exploring that question, and documenting the many ways this pandemic is burdening families who were already struggling.

In a new episode of “Covering Coronavirus,” our special series from the FRONTLINE Dispatch podcast, I speak with Jezza about how the coronavirus outbreak is heightening food scarcity, the challenges facing food banks and pantries as they adapt their policies and procedures — and how community members are going to great lengths to get meals to kids who need them.

“Everybody just wants these kids to be fed,” Jezza says, describing how a local school district is using a fleet of school buses to deliver food to students in need — and how teachers themselves are delivering food by car to houses too remote for the buses to reach.

In this episode, you’ll also hear directly from Crystal, a mom of two whose own family has faced food insecurity. She is continuing to work at a food pantry herself throughout the coronavirus outbreak: “People are hungry. People have to be fed. It’s a necessity,” she says. 

Though the pantry is taking precautions and using a curbside pickup system, Crystal’s young son, Shawn (pictured above with his sister), tells us he’s worried: “There still could be like, any type of virus that she can catch,” he says. 

For the full story, listen to “Covering Coronavirus: Athens, Ohio,” from the FRONTLINE Dispatch. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer, FRONTLINE



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