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Due to the crisis, the number of Americans wishing to get free food has doubled

Left without jobs and livelihoods, Americans line up in giant lines for free products. Food banks fear that they will not have enough resources, writes Business Insider.

Photo: Shutterstock

A photo of an endless line of cars from people who came to get free food from a food bank in San Antonio circled around social networks. This case illustrates the current situation in the United States, where quarantine has left millions of Americans without jobs and livelihoods.

Eric Cooper, director of the food bank in San Antonio, was shocked when he saw the number of people who wanted to get groceries.

“These lines are longer than any that have been in my life. I've never seen such a demand! ” - surprised Cooper, who has been in office since 2001.

Last week, more than 10 American families turned to his organization for food.

“The end of this crisis is not in sight, nor is the end of the line of cars in sight,” says Cooper.

Screenshot: Thousands of people came to the food bank in San Antonio. KSAT12 / YouTube

According to him, this branch of the food bank serves 16 counties in Texas. Before the pandemic swept the country, the institution served 60 people a week. Now they are 120 thousand people a week, and up to 10 thousand families come to one distribution of food at once.

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Cooper reports that many families arrived at the grocery store 12 hours earlier in order to take turns and manage to get their box of meat and other products.

The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for an organization that cannot handle this volume of work. School closures, home demands and job cuts across the country have left many American families without money even for food.

In Los Angeles, where 50% of the population are unemployed, kilometer queues are also lined up in front of the food bank. The situation is not better in New York, where food banks do not cope with the number of people who want to get help.

Screenshot: Lines of cars at a grocery store, Los Angeles. VOANews / YouTube

The charity organization Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks and 60 affiliate branches across the country, reports that the number of people wishing to receive food has increased at 000% of distribution points. Compared to last year, the number of people in need of help increased by 95%.

Feeding America estimates that another 1,7 million Americans will contact them in the near future if the situation in the country does not change.

Eric Cooper says he sees many new faces in the grocery line. Many Americans are forced to seek help for the first time, and over time there will only be more.

“In the queue, I saw many who knew about the food bank because they used to volunteer here. Now they themselves need help, ”said Cooper.

Yet millions of hungry Americans are not the only food bank problem.

Increased demand for food aid exposes bank and volunteer staff to the additional risk of coronavirus infection.

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In this situation, when the number of those in need is growing exponentially, the charity began to attract the US National Guard to work: they actively participate in the distribution of food boxes.

“We are experiencing a labor shortage because volunteers are afraid of contracting the coronavirus,” said Cheryl Jackson, owner of Minnie's Grocery Warehouse in Plano, Texas.

To ensure the preparation and sorting of food products in the right amount and to ensure processes for maximum protection against the virus, employees of the organization work even at night. Some departments switched to six- and seven-day work schedules.

Screenshot: The process of sorting products at the point of delivery. San Antonio KENS 5 / YouTube

Warehouses are forced to issue food boxes even through a window to avoid unnecessary contact with a large number of people.

“People do not see our smile under the mask and we cannot support them with hugs,” Cheryl Jackson regrets about the situation.

In just 4 weeks, Americans filed 22 million applications for unemployment benefits. This is a record in modern US history.

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Food bank representatives fear they might not have enough food for millions of hungry Americans, because quarantine measures have hit banks hard. People who used to donate food to charity now buy food for their own families for the future. The amount of donations decreased by 40-60%, so food banks are forced to reduce the food packages themselves.

At a time when millions of U.S. residents need food, US farmers forced to drain milk and recycle vegetablesbecause they cannot transport and sell them in a pandemic. Feeding American and the American Farm Bureau are now working to deliver these products to those in need, using resources approved by the Food Assistance Program. The program should help organize logistics between manufacturers and grocery banks, as well as launch an algorithm for receiving products in stores using a beneficiary card.

Eric Cooper, head of the San Antonio Food Bank, is not sure this assistance will be timely. According to his calculations, the program will work fully only in the middle of summer. But until this time, the Americans still need something to eat.

“I understand that the lines will only get longer. But will there be enough food for us? " Cooper is puzzled.

He states that he managed to agree on the necessary financial support, but the organization has a lot of work to do.

Cheryl Jackson laments that her warehouse is constantly short of food. She has already appealed to dozens of charitable organizations for help and is worried that the situation will only worsen.

“The longer the pandemic lasts, the more people we will have to serve. I am afraid that many food warehouses, unable to withstand such a load, will close. We pray for a miracle, because we don't know how long we will be able to help. But I believe that together we will pool our resources and make it through. ”

As ForumDaily wrote earlier:

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Miscellaneous In the U.S. crisis California quarantine tool charity Products unemployment coronavirus food sets San Antonio food bank
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