“In one of the richest countries on earth, millions still go hungry each day.”
I copied this verbatim from the U.S.-based website news channel “Vox.” This statement was supported by photographs of thousands of Americans queuing up at food banks. Of course these images are rock-solid proof that “American exceptionalism” is but an illusion.
“American exceptionalism” portrays a world view depicting the U.S. as a state “superior” to and “different” than all other nations. American authorities use this definition to legitimize every sort of intervention on the fate of other nations. Therefore, it is ironic that the world’s greatest superpower, the U.S., has fallen short in dealing with the micro viral army called COVID-19.
The annual defense budget of the U.S., the world’s largest economy, is $800 billion. The combined defense budget of China and Russia, the U.S.’s biggest competitors, is less than a quarter of what the U.S. spends. Now the Americans are questioning what the real use of this “superpower” status is.
Over 20 million Americans have lost their jobs since the onset of the virus. Now most of these people are in need of the help of non-profit civil organizations like food banks. The American press for their part are publishing heart-wrenching photos of people queuing up in long lines in front of warehouses belonging to these organizations.
However, Food Banks are having a hard time meeting these demands, which have reached a huge magnitude. “Feeding America,” which represents 200 of these food banks nationwide, last year alone helped 40 million Americans. This number has risen exponentially within the past two months due to the virus. Fifty percent of Americans who received food aid applied to food banks this year for the first time. This situation alone shows how dire the social security system in the U.S. really is. The U.S.’s public health system is even more down in the dumps.
Donations to Feeding America have dropped between 40 and 60 percent due to the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. It predicts that 17 million more Americans will join the queues lining up within the next few months. The number of volunteers distributing food diminishing due to the precautions taken to curb the virus is another problem.
As Food Banks struggle to provide food aid to those in need, farmers pour thousands of barrels of milk down the drain and burn millions of kilos of fresh produce. Since supply chains have been interrupted due to epidemic measures, millions of animals are also being liquidated in chicken and pig farms.
Due to the closure of certain meatpacking plants, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find products in supermarkets and what they do have is getting more expensive by the day. The eating habits of Americans, especially as a hamburger-eating nation, are negatively affected by this situation.
The cuts in the food supply chain is the biggest problem faced by Food Banks. In summary, the U.S. is up against a huge food security problem. Not just in the U.S. but a global food crisis is looming due to cracks in the supply chains of various countries. Economic recession and unemployment could lead to 300 million people facing the risk of starvation.
A report prepared on the impact of the COVID-19 by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that the cuts in global food supply chains would increase the spreading speed of the virus as well as social tensions. The director of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, in a statement made in April, said: “We are not just face to face with a coronavirus outbreak but a famine outbreak.”
The global COVID-19 pandemic has not just threatened the health of humans but sent shockwaves through the economy. Hence, those who have termed the food crisis born from the coronavirus pandemic as the “third shock wave” were clearly on to something.