Food banks across America have been inundated by seemingly endless lines of people who have found themselves out of jobs and low on cash as the fight to flatten the coronavirus curve wears on.
With the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7 per cent this week – the highest since 1940 – and more than 16.8million people in the US filing for unemployment over the last three weeks, food banks have been struggling to keep up with unprecedented demand.
The growing pull on these emergency food pantries comes just as families across the country are heading into major religious holidays Passover and Easter.
Cars are seen here waiting for food to be put in trunks at the Easter weekend Food Bank in Santa Ana, California, Saturday
Easter weekend Food Bank in Santa Ana workers are seen putting packages of food inside car trunks Saturday
Thousands of people showed up forming massive lines of cars at the Santa Ana food bank Saturday
A Santa Ana food bank worker is seen here wearing bunny ears Saturday. Food boxes included emergency food staples, as well as fresh produce, milk and meat
A Santa Ana food bank worker is seen here carrying milk and apples to a car at Saturday’s drive-thru distribution
Thousands of people lined up in their cars as they waited to get inside the Easter Weekend Food Bank in Santa Ana
On Saturday, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County hosted a drive-thru food distribution in Anaheim, California, meant to provide food to people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The three-hour event was stocked with enough food for up to 7,000 families, with each car in the line being given a bag each of potatoes, onions, shelf-stable grocery items and King’s Hawaiian Bread, KTLA reported.
In Honolulu, Hawaii, a two-mile-long line of cars awaited the Salvation Army’s drive-thru emergency food distribution Saturday, Hawaii News Now reported.
People waited as long as two hours to receive their food packages. All told, the Salvation Army said that it given food to nearly 700 cars, with multiple families inside one car, indication that thousands of people had actually been given food.
These are just some of the latest reports of extensive lines of people in need of emergency food supplies following the coronavirus outbreak in the US.
Earlier in the week, dramatic images revealed long lines of cars at drive-thru food banks in many major US cities.
Texas’ San Antonio Food Bank said that about 6,000 people had registered for its food distribution on Thursday, but that about 10,000 families actually showed up to receive more than one million pounds worth of food.
Cars wait to collect food donations from the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank in San Rafael, California Saturday
Volunteers wearing face masks direct traffic during a drive-thru food distribution in Anaheim, California Saturday
A volunteer bags food during the drive-thru food distribution Saturday in Anaheim’s Honda Center
People are seen here standing on line outside a food pantry in New York’s Staten Island Saturday
Volunteers are seen bagging food for distribution at Community Health Action Of Staten Island Food Pantry
Community Health Action Of Staten Island Food Pantry volunteers are seen at tables, package food to hand out
People wait on line to receive food donations at New York City’s Community League of the Heights food pantry
People received free groceries at Community League of the Heights food pantry on Saturday
The parking lot at the drive-thru event – the organization’s largest, single-day distribution in its 40-year history – was packed with cars as people waiting in long lines for hours for food, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
It was a similar story in Pittsburgh on Friday, when The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s three-hour drive-thru distribution event.
Cars were lined up for more than a mile to receive two boxes of food – enough to make 40 meals – per vehicle. The organization had said that they had enough food to help 1,300 people at that giveaway.
At the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s giveaway on Friday, hundreds of cars had lined up by 8am outside The Forum in Inglewood, California. Workers then put the groceries inside the trunks of their cars, KTLA reported.
The organization said that it expected to give food to as many as 5,000 families that day.
Also in Los Angeles Friday, workers at LAX airport were invited to a specially-organized food bank, DailyMail.com reported exclusively.
At least 5,000 cars were expected at the event, according to LA Food Bank President and CEO Michael Flood – all being given to people who depended on the airport to make a living, ranging from taxi drivers to air crews, as passenger numbers have dropped dramatically due to stay at home precautions.
LAX’s most recent figures show just 7,966 passengers flew or landed on March 31. The average number of travelers in January was more than 215,000 a day.
The airport had said that until recently, it had 59,000 workers on site and in the immediate area around it, while the City of Los Angeles estimated that 100,000 additional jobs directly depend on the airport.
Hundreds of cars were seen waiting on a two-mile-long line in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, waiting for food
A Honolulu food bank volunteer is seen here placing donated food into the trunk of a waiting car Saturday
People waited as long as two hours to receive their food packages during the Honolulu drive-thru distribution
The Salvation Army said it gave food to nearly 700 cars, estimating the thousands of people actually received food
A worker registers applicants for the Food Pantry at the Vida Real Church in Somerville, Massachusetts
A line of people waiting to be registered to receive food from the Food Pantry at Vida Real Church Saturday
Feeding America – the largest hunger-relief organization in the country – told Good Morning America that it estimates it will need to feed an additional 17.1million people – many of who are relying on food banks for the first time – as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
This, on top of the 37million people that were previously food insecure, including 11million children and 5.5million seniors.
‘I’ve never witnessed a system being more strained,’ Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said.
‘For the first time probably in our history, we’ve had to turn some people away,’ she said, not that ‘We don’t want to do that, ever.’
Food bank officials are now worried about running out of food due to fewer food donations, which leaves them in need of financial donations.
Officials at Anne Arundel County Food Bank in Crownsville, Maryland, told WBALTV that its donations were down 90 per cent, as grocery stores had reduced donations in efforts to meet the needs of their customers.
‘The only donations that we are able to rely on is what we are receiving from the community, some businesses and what we are able to purchase with monetary donation,’ the food bank’s executive director Susan Thomas said.
Central Texas Food Bank’s CEO and president Derrick Chubbs said that the pantry, which serves 21 counties, had about 7,000 new families come through in March, alone.
‘That’s a 207% increase from what we’re normally used to seeing, and I think that translates to approximately 22,000 new people,’ he told KVUE.
‘We’ve all seen the shelves. There isn’t a lot of food being donated. The amount of donated food has dropped drastically, so we’re already purchasing food,’ Chubbs said.
‘And to help us continue to purchase the food, we could certainly just use the financial donations.’
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