(Natural News) With the pandemic taking hold just after the new year began, 2020 has proven to be one of the worst years in history for people everywhere, and residents of the United States are no exception. For many, fears about getting ill with the coronavirus have now been eclipsed by desperate anxiety about where their next paycheck will come from or how they will find the money to feed their families.
By early April, over 16.8 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits – a number so large and unprecedented that labor departments nationwide have been completely overwhelmed, creating a massive backlog of applications.
This backlog, in turn, has meant that millions have been left stranded without any source of income for many weeks. And since most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, this has ultimately left a huge number of people without the resources to even buy their next meal.
As reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, this has left many with no option but to turn to food banks for help, and these food banks are quickly becoming overwhelmed as well. (Related: Talking about reopening the economy, Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick says ‘There are more important things than living.’)
The hungry line up
The situation is fast becoming desperate in Los Angeles, as the Mail reported:
Grim footage has shown lines of cars stretching for miles outside a Los Angeles food bank as droves of desperate Americans continue to [sit in] line for hours across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of cars were spotted crawling along the street to receive food items being distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank at the The Forum arena in Inglewood at the weekend.
And California is by no means the only state where people are having to rely on handouts to survive. The Mail reported further:
In other scenes across the country in recent days, hundreds of people lined up in their cars on Tuesday in order to get free food from the Feeding South Florida food bank in Opa-Locka.
About 10,000 families lined up in their cars for hours at a food bank in San Antonio, Texas and cars lined for more than a mile at a drive-up food bank site in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the weekend.
Desperation has also meant that social distancing rules have been disregarded or have become unenforceable in many places.
The Mail reported:
Crowds of people were also spotted huddling together in the rain outside a soup kitchen in New York City on Monday despite social distancing guidelines being enforced by the city.
Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, and a 25-year industry veteran, told NBC’s Today show recently that he has never seen anything like this level of need in his community.
“We typically feed about 60,000 a week,” he said. “The need has risen to 120,000 people a week and we are just working as hard as we can to meet that need.” (Related: Will people in the U.S. have to cope with another 18 months of rolling coronavirus shutdowns? This expert thinks they will.)
Sadly, many of those now turning to help from food banks are people who just a few weeks ago were gainfully employed in the hospitality industry, gig economy and other industries, who have never had to seek outside help to support themselves before. In fact, Cooper noted that some have even volunteered at food banks themselves in the past.
Now that the last of their money has dwindled away, however, they have no choice but to seek aid. And with no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands more are sure to swell their ranks in the coming months.
Sources for this article include: