Food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic


The World Food Program reported in April that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could rise to 265 million in 2020 as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, nearly double the number in 2019.

Food-related ministries, a mainstay of United Methodist mission work, have provided a way for the church to respond to the pandemic, even when pews remained empty and other programs were shuttered during the crisis.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief established the UMCOR COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide grants to help churches and partners assist vulnerable populations dealing with food security and other needs related to the pandemic.

Read related UM News coverage:

Original three-part series on food insecurity, May 19-21, 2020

Volunteer Alli Carter (left) and Alan Becker (center) of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City load fresh produce into a refrigerated trailer as part of the church's food outreach program that helps provide free meals to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Ed Doney, St. Luke's United Methodist Church.

Tackling food insecurity caused by pandemic

Food-related ministries are a mainstay for United Methodists. Now churches are ramping up efforts in response to COVID-19.
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African churches ease pandemic's hunger blow

United Methodist congregations continue to support church members and communities struggling with hunger amid the COVID-19 crisis.
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Volunteer Elyssa Bollinger packages gleaned sweet potatoes for distribution to local residents and for delivery to shut-ins during a socially distanced Society of St. Andrew “potato drop” at First United Methodist Church in Mt. Olive, N.C., where Bollinger is a member. Most of the loose potatoes were placed into pick-up trucks bound for feeding agencies and church food pantries. Photo by Michael Binger, Society of St. Andrew.

Reclaiming more food to fill pandemic gaps

The Society of St. Andrew, which has always tackled food waste, is trying to help with increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
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New and additional stories

Groups help alleviate hunger in Zimbabwe

UMW, The Nyadire Connection and Harare East District combine efforts to assist vulnerable families, older adults and theology students.
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Filipinos join massive pantry movement

In times of scarcity and crisis, United Methodists and their neighbors find ways to share with the community.
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Ethnic churches collaborate to feed New York neighbors

Many ethnic minority churches have initiated food ministries to help local communities struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Dakotas Conference feels pain of COVID-19

United Methodist churches in North and South Dakota step up ministry even as clergy and members join ranks of those infected.
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Feeding people is complicated, but joyful

A former NFL player and an oceanographer are among those working to get fresh produce to where it’s needed.
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Confronting pandemic-related food insecurity

United Methodists and their partners are putting resources together to address worsening food insecurity in Zimbabwe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Sheltering in Love grant alleviates hunger

More than 350 people in the four conferences of the Nigeria Episcopal Area benefitted from COVID-19 food assistance.
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Internally displaced people line up to collect food at Ebenezer Community United Methodist Church in Yaounde, Cameroon. With a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the church distributed food and other aid to those struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy Vischo Image.

Providing food for internally displaced families

The United Methodist Church in Cameroon, with help from Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, distributes food relief and other aid.
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The Rev. Michelle Wilson offers sack lunches from the door of the church van as part of the Hands of Hope food security program at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. The church received a Sheltering in Love grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief that has enabled it to expand existing food security ministries with seniors and persons experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

In trying times, churches extend their reach

Grants from the United Methodist Committee on Relief allow churches to expand programs, increase capacity during pandemic.
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Workers with the church's Department of Community Services load supplies onto a vehicle to deliver to rural Liberia. The food relief — supported by UMCOR and other global partners — is part of the efforts of The United Methodist Church's Anti COVID-19 Taskforce. Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.

Food relief helps in Liberia's COVID-19 fight

UMCOR and other church partners provide support to church's Anti COVID-19 Taskforce as country sees spike in cases.
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Jolie Mwaidi (right), leader of Kivu United Methodist Women, harvests cassava leaves in her garden in Bukavu, Congo. Joséphine Angel helps collect the crop. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.

Pastors ‘make friends with the soil' during lockdown

Church leaders in Africa turn to farming during the pandemic to supplement income and help members and others struggling with food insecurity.
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The COVID-19 response continues through Sheltering in Love grants from the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

COVID-19 Fund grants filling the gaps

From Louisiana to the Philippines, United Methodists are finding ways to assist those affected by the coronavirus pandemic and asking for support from the UMCOR COVID-19 Response Fund.
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A mural warns residents of the danger posed by the COVID-19 outbreak in the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, N.M. The United Methodist Church's Four Corners Native American Ministry is helping support tribal members and front-line workers on the reservation. Photo by Andrew Hay, REUTERS.

United Methodist ministry aids Navajo nation

The Four Corners Native American Ministry is among those helping tribal members and front-line workers as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the reservation.
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Jesús, a migrant from Michoacán state in Western Mexico, tries to shield his 1-year-old daughter, Kataleya, from a cold drizzle falling at the tent encampment where they are living at the foot of the Paso del Norte Bridge in Juárez, Mexico. The family, who fled their home due to street violence, has been living in the makeshift camp just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, for two months while waiting their turn to seek asylum in the U.S. Michoacán is among five states in Mexico given the highest-risk “do not travel” warning by the U.S. State Department. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Pandemic threatening ministry with migrants

United Methodists are helping but are hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which separates them from face-to-face interaction with migrants.
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The United Methodist Church for All People in Columbus, Ohio, has adapted its food ministry during the COVID-19 outbreak. People used to be able to enter the All People's Fresh Market and get their own goods, but now they're asked to drive up and volunteers will bring food boxes to their cars. Photo courtesy of the Church for All People.

Ohio church alters produce giveaway due to Covid-19

Social distancing measures due to the coronavirus pandemic have not prevented The United Methodist Church for All People in Columbus from continuing to provide support and hope to its community.
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An employee from the Home Care Ministry of The United Methodist Church in Macedonia checks on the welfare of a client at her home in Strumica. The client's face was blurred to protect her privacy in this photo provided by the Home Care Ministry. Photo courtesy of The United Methodist Church in Macedonia.

COVID-19 challenges programs in North Macedonia

A United Methodist-run social center in North Macedonia that operates several food programs is struggling to find food, supplies and funds to pay for them.
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Sailors on the hospital ship USNS Comfort raise the colors while the ship is moored in New York Harbor in support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts. United Methodist leaders are painting a sobering picture of the coronavirus impact on New York and New Jersey. “This is our new 9/11 in New York,” said New York Area Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman, U.S. Navy.

Being the church at epicenter of US pandemic

United Methodist leaders paint a sobering picture of the coronavirus impact on New York and New Jersey but also show the church is still at work.
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The Rev. Michelle Wilson (left) offers sack lunches from the door of the church van as part of the Hands of Hope food security program at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.
The Rev. Michelle Wilson (left) offers sack lunches from the door of the church van as part of the Hands of Hope food security program at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

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General Agencies
United Methodist bishops hold hands in prayer during a day of prayer for the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. The General Council on Finance and Administration board approved a monthly stipend for active bishops who have led more than one episcopal area since January 2021. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Extra pay approved for bishops with extra workloads

The board of The United Methodist Church’s finance agency has approved a monthly stipend for active bishops who serve more than one episcopal area in this time of disruption.
Faith Sharing
Kayla Alexander (left), who attended First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge as a child, attended the church virtually while her family was in lockdown because of COVID-19 in Australia, where they now live. Alexander and Jamie (to her right) brought their third child Brady Alexander to Louisiana to be baptized by the Rev. Brady Whitton at First United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Kayla Alexander.

Virtual church will continue after COVID-19

The rewards of online ministry are too rich to give up if and when the coronavirus is a thing of the past, said a pastor in Louisiana. Three stories from First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge illustrate his point.
Poverty
The Cultivate Hope Corner Store opened April 27 in a neighborhood that lacks other affordable, nutritious food sources. The store is operated by Matthew 25, which is devoted to empowering people to rebuild and renew their neighborhoods. Photo courtesy of the Iowa Conference.

Corner Store helps feed community

The Cultivate Hope Corner Store opened April 27 in a neighborhood that lacks other affordable, nutritious food sources. The store offers organics, meat, dairy, produce and dry goods, and has some free products. Story by the Iowa Conference.