REPORT: Food Banks See Unprecedented Demand During Pandemic

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Food banks are scrambling to keep up with an unprecedented spike in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown orders have forced many people to close their businesses or severely limit operations, leaving many Americans without a job or a paycheck. Unemployment rose to 14.7% during the pandemic, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The pandemic has devastated small businesses, which have been struggling with a combination of virus restrictions and decreased consumer spending. (RELATED: Chris Pratt Talks About Family Depending On ‘A Food Bank’ When He Was Growing Up)

Food banks have struggled to keep up with the increased need. More families began coming in once schools, which often provided breakfast and lunch for children, switched to virtual learning. Between March and October, Feeding America gave out 4.2 billion meals and saw a 60% average increase in the number of people using a food bank. About 40% of the people who visited a food bank during the pandemic were there for the first time, according to the report.

Images from the AP showed long lines of cars outside of drive-up food banks – including some people who waited overnight for food. Others in New York and other cities lined up for blocks waiting for food.

20% of the 200 Feeding America food banks were in danger of running out of food in March. The organization estimates that 15 million more people will face hunger in 2020 compared to 2019. One out of every six people – and one in four children – will face hunger, Feeding America estimates.

Another problem facing food banks during the pandemic was a drop in donations. Many of those who would have previously given food could no longer afford to do so because of economic hardships, resulting in a population that was more in need but less able to donate.