Without help in turbulent times, more are going hungry.

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Boy Opening Refrigerator
Credit: Rosley Majid / EyeEm via Getty Images

At this point in 2020, saying that the federal government hasn't done enough to support the people and businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic doesn't feel like much of a controversial statement. Congress and the White House continue to squabble over whether or not more relief (let alone another direct stimulus check) is needed while the misery continues. 

While there are many facets to this crisis, a new poll of 2000 Americans commissioned by Two Good Yogurt in October suggests that 2020 has been a dire time of unprecedented food insecurity for an ever-increasing number of people. 

According to the data from the OnePoll survey, four out of every 10 respondents said that Covid-19 marked the first time they've experienced some level of food insecurity. An astounding 79% of those individuals reported that they'd struggled to find support in these difficult times, further suggesting a gap between the amount of relief that people need and what's been made available to them. Not surprisingly, six in 10 reported that the expiration of federal stimulus programs has made it harder to put food on the table.

The specific contours of the food insecurity problem are painful to think about. Roughly half of those surveyed can recall times they didn't have enough money to purchase food, with 35% saying they know what it's like to have no idea where your next meal is coming from. Heartbreakingly, 37% report skipping a meal so they could make sure their kids had something to eat. 

What the data also reveals is that it's not necessarily obvious when someone is struggling with hunger. A full 63% of those who'd experienced food insecurity said they didn't realizing they were experiencing it at the time, a situation that could make it harder to get—or accept—help. 

Though far from an exhaustive, scientific snapshot of hunger in the US, Two Good hopes that the survey can shed new light on an oft-underestimated issue. 

"Two Good supported this survey to drive conversation around the increasingly urgent issue of food insecurity in our country," Surbhi Martin, Vice President of Marketing at Danone North America said in a press release. "We found that for nearly 40% of respondents, COVID-19 contributed to their first experience with food insecurity. The majority of those surveyed (63%) also did not realize they were food insecure - indicating a clear discrepancy in our collective understanding of what constitutes food insecurity in the first place."

If there's any good news hidden within the data, it's that the current moment might act as a wake-up call. Seven out of 10 respondents said they're more aware of food insecurity struggles in their communities. Furthermore, six out of 10 said they're inspired to give back to their communities, with an equal number expressing a desire to volunteer for an organization aimed at taking on food insecurity. 

So if you have the means and are feeling grateful that this awful year has spared you the misery that so many seem to endure, the holiday season might be a good time to make some sort of donation or volunteer effort to help stem the rising tide of hunger. Until (or even unless) a new stimulus kicks in and starts making a difference in the lives of those facing food insecurity, it's up to the rest of us to lend a hand.