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D.C. hunger report details pandemic’s effects in city

Nearly 150,000 District residents have filed for unemployment insurance as business closures during the coronavirus pandemic led to reduced hours and layoffs. And many residents have applied for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“I’m saddened by the fact that the numbers spiked up,” said George Jones, chief executive of Bread for the City, a nonprofit group that provides food, medical care and legal services to low-income D.C. residents. “But I’m not surprised, because we’ve seen similar spikes in our own food pantry and demand for food there.”

Before the pandemic, Bread for the City served 400 households in the District on its busiest days, Jones said. Now, the organization is distributing food to 1,000 households a day. The Capital Area Food Bank’s nonprofit partner network, which includes Bread for the City and serves the Greater Washington region, has seen increases between 30 and 400 percent, according to a spokeswoman for the food bank.

The D.C. report released Tuesday comes months after the Capital Area Food Bank’s hunger report from July, which projected an increase of up to 60 percent in food insecurity across the region this year. That report said the pandemic would push up to 250,000 people into hunger in the District, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties and the city of Alexandria in Virginia.

The pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in communities of color, data shows. The Office of Planning report refers to a survey from April that found that Black households in the District were 13.5 times more likely to report that they sometimes did not have enough food to eat than White households in the city.

And Latino households were 6.5 times more likely to report they sometimes did not have enough food to eat than White households. The projected increase in hunger is consistent with what the Capital Area Food Bank found for the Washington region.

“This new reality magnifies the urgency of achieving true health equity in the District, with every resident having meaningful access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food,” Ona Balkus, the food policy director at the D.C. Office of Planning, said in a news release.

The report recommends increasing healthy food options in Ward 7 and Ward 8, which are the District’s poorest wards. Each has more than 70,000 residents, but Ward 7 has just two full-service grocery stores and Ward 8 has one, said Calvin Smith, the chairman of the Ward 8 Health Council.

“Because the median income is between $30,000 and $35,000 a year in Ward 8, there is not a great business case, as they tell us, for supermarkets to make their level of investments,” Smith said.

Hunger in the city appears to be growing most in Ward 7 and 8, which signals that other wards in the city are probably better managing the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The report also references a Feeding America report that estimates the child food insecurity rate will be

UN chief cites pandemic’s ‘unprecedent toll’

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says the COVID-19 pandemic has taken “an unprecedent toll” especially on the economies of many developing countries and the world has not responded with “the massive and urgent support those countries and communities need.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that in the United States, Canada, Europe and most of the developed world, governments have adopted packages valued in double-digits of GDP to help tackle the coronavirus crisis and its impact.

“The problem is to mobilize the resources to allow the developing countries to be able to do the same,” he told a joint press conference Tuesday with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who have been jointly spearheading high-level meetings to try to raise the resources.

Guterres urged the international community to increase resources to the International Monetary Fund, including through a new allocation of special drawing rights and a voluntary reallocation of existing special drawing rights. He said many countries urgently need debt relief and called for the current debt suspensions to be extended and expanded to all developing and middle-income countries that need help. The private sector, including credit-rating agencies, also “must be engaged in relief efforts,” he said.

The U.N. chief said he is encouraged to see over 40 world leaders and the heads of the IMF, World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the African Union “coming together around these bold policies.”

He urged the international community to provide $35 billion — including $15 billion immediately — to fund “the ACT-Accelerator to ensure equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines” for all countries.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

— New York City officials to start issuing fines to people who refuse to wear masks in areas with spikes in the novel coronavirus

— llinois Gov. Pritzker to quarantine 2 weeks after contact with staffer who tested positive

— India vice president tests positive for virus, isolating at home

— How can I volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine study?

— The coronavirus is infecting a rising number of American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears driven by school re-openings, resumption of sports and play dates.

— University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins apologized for not wearing a mask after pictures surfaced online of him shaking hands and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people at a recent Rose Garden ceremony.

— Tennessee Titans players, staff test positive for coronavirus; first outbreak in the NFL at Week 4.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

RALEIGH, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system reported its first coronavirus-related student death on Tuesday since several campuses reopened with at least partial in-person learning last month.

Chad Dorrill, a 19-year student at Appalachian State University who lived off campus in Boone and took all of his classes online, died on Monday due to coronavirus complications, officials said.

“Any