Before the pandemic, Las Vegas was on the verge of becoming the first major U.S. city to close its meal gap. Now we have the biggest hunger problem in the country. In less than three months, we have gone from first to worst.
When our economy shut down in mid-March, both the number and composition of Southern Nevadans deemed “food insecure” (households uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food) changed overnight.
This week Feeding America released some updated and stunning new metrics regarding the rate of food insecurity in our community:
- There are now more than 447,000 Southern Nevadans experiencing food insecurity.
- The number of food-insecure individuals we serve has gone from 1 in 8 to 1 in 5.
- 1 in 3 children now lives in a food-insecure home.
Las Vegas’ unemployment rate was 33% in April. Tens of thousands of Southern Nevadans who have never received any kind of charitable or public assistance now need emergency food services for the first time in their lives.
The influx of newly needy, “the SUV poor” as one self-identified, has jarred our stereotypes of who is hungry. One newly unemployed young man said that, without wealthy parents, insurance or savings, his life is shut down, adding, “My life is on hiatus.”
Three Square is serving approximately 3,000 families a day through 21 drive-thru food distributions. In the coming weeks, the number of Three Square’s agency partners will increase slowly as health and safety protocols are met. These front line heroes have retooled and adapted in amazing ways, creating a safe environment for clients to access food.
Call volume to our Three Square Call Center remains high but is leveling off to more manageable levels. Applications for SNAP (food stamps) remain brisk as we assist new applicants in navigating all available assistance programs.
We've got our work cut out for us, no doubt about it, but though the needs are large and urgent, Three Square’s team remains forward focused. Strategic goal-setting, budget planning, program evaluation, and performance reviews all continue apace.
I thank each of you for being generous with your words, time, funds and ideas as we push forward. You’ve allowed us to rise to this moment, on a scale never imagined. We will need you more than ever in the months ahead, and should you need us, we will be here for you.
Together, we can feed everyone.
Brian Burton, President and CEO