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October saw the highest level of demand for food banks and pantries in Pennsylvania since the start of quarantine. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Hunger is rising in Pennsylvania, leading millions of households to rely on food aid amid unprecedented job losses and economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This October has seen the highest level of demand for food banks and pantries in Pennsylvania since the start of quarantine, The Guardian reported. In the first three weeks of October,  1.17 million aid boxes with fresh produce and staples were distributed statewide to 2.75 million people. 

The previous record monthly distribution is from July, when 1.38 million households received food boxes across the state, The Guardian reported.

“Demand is going up across the state and the country. We’ve never seen anything like this before, it gives me goosebumps," executive director of Pennsylvania Food Banks Sheila Christopher told The Guardian.

According to Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization, approximately 54 million people will experience food insecurity in 2020, including 18 million children.

To combat the increasing issue of food insecurity, people are urging Congress to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, calling for the passage of the HEROES Act which would raise the maximum benefit under SNAP by 15% through September 2021.

Amy Hill, director of community engagement for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, told bctv.org that there has been about a 50% increase in the number of people asking for food assistance since the beginning of the pandemic, many of them for the first time. There has been no increase in the benefit in COVID-19 relief bills passed by Republicans in the Senate.

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