Survey shows many do not even know how to apply for assistance

Many Americans struggling to feed their families over the past pandemic year say they have had difficulty figuring out how to get help and had trouble finding healthy foods they can afford.

A poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 23% of Americans say they have not been able to get enough to eat or the kinds of foods they want. Most of those facing food challenges enrolled in a government or nonprofit food assistance program in the past year, but 58% still had difficulty accessing at least one service.

And 21% of adults facing challenges meeting their food needs were unable to access any assistance at all. The most common challenge to those in need was a basic lack of awareness of eligibility for both government and nonprofit services.

The poll results paint an overall picture of a country where hundreds of thousands of households found themselves suddenly plunged into food insecurity due to the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. They often found themselves navigating the intimidating bureaucracy of government assistance programs and with limited knowledge of local food banks or other charitable options available.

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