- There has been a rise in theft of basic essentials as more people face income insecurity during the pandemic, The Washington Post reported.
- Several food aid programs are set to expire at the end of the year, even as demand at food banks rises.
- All of this is happening as negotiations around a new COVID-19 relief bill makes little headway in Congress.
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As the pandemic continues and millions of Americans face hunger, many are resorting to stealing basic essentials to survive, The Washington Post reported.
On the week of December 5, some 853,000 people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, an increase of 137,000 from the previous week. The US Department of Labor said.
NPR reported the number of people filing claims for a federal assistance program for gig workers and self-employed individuals increased by 48% the same week.
The Post previously reported hunger has reached levels not seen in decades, impacting at least 26 million Americans who say they don’t have enough food to eat.
Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, said in October that this year, as a result of the pandemic, more than 13 million more Americans could face food insecurity compared to 2018, bringing the total number of food-insecure people in the overall population to 50.4 million.
All of that combined has resulted in more theft of necessities like food items and baby supplies as Americans struggle to survive.
“We’re seeing an increase in low-impact crimes,” Jeff Zisner, chief executive of workplace security firm Aegis told The Post. “It’s not a whole lot of people going in, grabbing TVs and running out the front door. It’s a very different kind of crime – it’s people stealing consumables and items associated with children and babies.”
The increase comes as negotiations over a new stimulus bill to combat the economic effects of the pandemic drag on in Congress. On Thursday, the Trump administration defended its push for a one-time $600 stimulus check instead of weekly federal unemployment benefits, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested negotiations could stretch until after Christmas.
Altogether, as many as 20 million Americans are behind on rent. Moody’s Analytics found that nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, Business Insider’s Taylor Borden reported.
Additionally, The Post reported the $4.5 billion Trump food program, Farmers to Families Food Box program, is running out of money. The program helped feed millions of Americans throughout the pandemic.
Other food programs are also set to expire by the end of the year, even as food banks see an increase in demand.