Image depicting The Devastating Toll of COVID-19
Photo: WFP/Oluwaseun Oluwamuyiwa

The Devastating Toll of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving millions of people into hunger and poverty. Four countries are already in the grip of famine and will starve without food assistance. We need your help to save their lives.

A Pandemic on Top of a Pandemic

New data about the coronavirus is shocking: Its impact on human lives and the global economy has doubled the number of severely hungry people to 272M. The U.N. World Food Programme is undertaking the biggest response in its history to serve 109M of them.


people are facing severe hunger due to COVID-19


men, women and children are on the brink of famine


will starve without our urgent assistance

How COVID-19 is Driving Hunger

Supply Chain Disruptions

"In many countries, food is provided by small-scale farmers moving food through informal markets and a complex network of small business. Quarantines, travel restrictions and other lockdown measures disproportionally affected these small-scale actors—sellers, traders, shop owners and the like. These disruptions restricted supplies and caused food prices to spike, making meals unaffordable for millions of people who live hand-to-mouth," says WFP USA's Senior Director of Public Policy, Chase Sova.

Source: After One Year of COVID-19, What Lessons Have We Learned About Hunger? Photo: WFP/Alice Rahmoun

Income Loss

COVID-19 has caused a crisis of food access, not availability. Lockdown measures resulted in the loss in roughly 500 million full-time jobs worldwide, significantly impacting poor families in low- and middle-income countries who spend half of their income on food. In these cases, loss of income directly translates into hunger as households are unable to afford food.

Source: After One Year of COVID-19, What Lessons Have We Learned About Hunger? Photo: WFP/Mohamaed Ben Khalif


COVID-19 is especially deadly for the elderly or those whose health is already compromised. Good nutrition is foundational to good health, and malnourishment leaves the body more susceptible to infection and may even reduce vaccine efficacy. Today, experts estimate that 6 to 7 million children under the age of five are likely to suffer from malnourishment due to the impacts of the pandemic.

Source: After One Year of COVID-19, What Lessons Have We Learned About Hunger? Photo: WFP/Fares Khoailed

School Meals

Since the pandemic began, 39 billion school meals have been missed globally. For many, it was their only meal of the day, and without it they're at risk of becoming severely malnourished. WFP is doing everything it can to find alternatives including take-home rations and home delivery.

Source: COVID-19 Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition Photo: WFP/Ngyuen Duc Hoang


Economic decline, poverty and food insecurity often accompany one another. For the millions of people who were barely scraping by before COVID-19, economic upheaval has forced them deeper into poverty and hunger. The pandemic has also created a new group of hungry, impoverished people: city dwellers in low- and middle-income countries. Urban areas in developing countries have been disproportionately impacted as its typical workers—taxi drivers, hotel clerks and airport staff to name a few—are left without their livelihoods due to lockdown measures.

Source: After One Year of COVID-19, What Lessons Have We Learned About Hunger? Photo: WFP/Tsiory Andriantsoarana

Refugees & IDPs

COVID-19 is highly risky to refugees and internally displaced populations, many of whom live in crowded, makeshift camps. These families live very close to one another and lack adequate medical facilities to treat the disease. An outbreak within a camp could undermine years of progress that WFP has made as it's forced to put livelihood and resilience-building projects on hold.

Source: COVID-19 and the 5 Major Threats it Poses to Global Food Security Photo: Saikat Mojumder

The U.N. World Food Programme is tackling these challenges head-on and responding in real time to changing needs on the ground.

Square photograph of Protect Detailed photograph of Protect
Photo: WFP/Mohammed Sami


WFP is using its expertise in social protection to support governments in adapting to COVID lockdown measures. Amidst school closures, children still need nutritious meals and communities need stability. WFP is working non-stop to reach 73 million vulnerable children and support governments in adjusting meal programs as schools re-open safely.

Detailed photograph of Support
Photo: WFP/Lorena Peña


WFP scaled up logistics for the entire UN and global humanitarian community in the early stages of the pandemic. This included air, sea and land transportation, world-wide supply chains and warehouses, and MEDEVAC services for health workers.

Detailed photograph of Provide
Photo: WFP/Simon Pierre Diouf


In the first 9 months of 2020, more than 13 million children received WFP school-based support despite widespread school closures. WFP is continuing to provide school meals to children in 57 countries and adapt to COVID lockdowns through food vouchers and take-home rations.

WFP's Response to COVID-19

The U.N. World Food Programme is doing everything it can to make sure it can feed families in need and respond immediately to changes on the ground.

Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde
School Meals

Where schools are closed, WFP is finding alternatives like providing take-home rations, delivering food directly to students’ homes, and sending cash or food vouchers. By September of 2020, more than 13M schoolchildren received WFP school-based support.

Photo: WFP/Alexis Masciarelli
Supply Chains

WFP is making sure its supply chains stay open amid a cascade of border closures and trade restrictions. Where corridors have closed, WFP has established new ones to deliver vital supplies and expanded infrastructure at critical hubs to meet future transport needs.

Photo: WFP/Francisco Garrido
Medical Services

By September of 2020, WFP had sent over 90 shipments to 78 countries in response to COVID-19, including $1.4M worth of protective gear, emergency health kits, anesthetic kits, stretchers, thermometers, water purification supplies and logistics equipment.

Photo: WFP/Alaa Noman
Nutrition Aid

A pandemic can sharply increase malnutrition rates, yet sick people need even more micronutrients to fight off infection. WFP is working overtime to reach  the elderly, chronically ill, young children, newborns, pregnant and nursing women, and people living with HIV/TB.

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Will you join us?

Hunger won't stop because of a virus, so neither will we. Help us send lifesaving food today to the world's most vulnerable people.