Food banks face growing hunger crisis ahead of the holidays during the pandemic

Food banks have seen a spike in demand since the pandemic struck.

November 25, 2020, 10:43 AM

Food banks have seen a spike in demand since the pandemic struck. In communities across the country, millions of Americans -- even those who are employed -- are becoming more food insecure. A report issued last month by the nonprofit Feeding America found that 1 in 6 people (more than 50 million) could face food insecurity in 2020, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life." Before the pandemic left millions of families without stable employment, more than 35 million Americans struggled with hunger. The expiration of federal assistance programs has added to the crisis.

Images from across the country show long lines and people waiting hours for donated food to feed their families. Food banks are struggling to keep up with the demand. According to Feeding America, 80% of food banks are serving more people than they were this time last year with many people visiting food banks for the first time. Feeding South Florida is getting only about 10% of the food they were receiving in March at the beginning of the pandemic and funding will soon be slashed in half.

New York

PHOTO: People wait in line for a Thanksgiving food distribution event at Food Bank For New York City in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, on Nov. 16, 2020.
People wait in line for a Thanksgiving food distribution event at Food Bank For New York City in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, on Nov. 16, 2020. Food Bank For New York City partnered with Stop & Shop and WBLS' The Steve Harvey Morning Show to give away turkeys, holiday boxes, and fresh produce to families in Harlem for Thanksgiving.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
PHOTO: La Jornada and Food Bank For New York City distribute turkeys to 4,000 families in need at The New York Hall Of Science on Nov. 22, 2020 in Queens, New York.
La Jornada and Food Bank For New York City distribute turkeys to 4,000 families in need at The New York Hall Of Science on Nov. 22, 2020 in Queens, New York.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

California

PHOTO: Cars line-up as the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank distributes food outside a church during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, Nov. 19, 2020.
Cars line-up as the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank distributes food outside a church during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, Nov. 19, 2020.
Mike Blake/Reuters
PHOTO: People wait in line to receive food at the Bay Area Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Giveaway in Richmond, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2020.
People wait in line to receive food at the Bay Area Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Giveaway in Richmond, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2020.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
PHOTO: A person hands over a turkey at the Bay Area Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Giveaway in Richmond, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2020.
A person hands over a turkey at the Bay Area Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Giveaway in Richmond, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2020.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida

PHOTO: Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local churches in Clermont, Fla., Nov. 11, 2020.
Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local churches in Clermont, Fla., Nov. 11, 2020.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
PHOTO: Volunteers distribute turkeys and other food assistance to the needy at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local churches in Clermont, Fla.
Volunteers distribute turkeys and other food assistance to the needy at a food distribution site at Lake-Sumter State College sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local churches in Clermont, Fla. With the approach of Thanksgiving, thousands of families in the Orlando area are in need of food assistance due to COVID-19 related layoffs in the tourist industry and the expiration of supplemental federal unemployment benefits.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

With the approach of Thanksgiving, thousands of families in the Orlando area are in need of food assistance due to COVID-19-related layoffs in the tourist industry and the expiration of supplemental federal unemployment benefits.

PHOTO: Colorado Rockies pitcher Yency Almonte passes out Thanksgiving meals to youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade County in Florida, Nov. 19, 2020.
Colorado Rockies pitcher Yency Almonte passes out Thanksgiving meals to youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade County in Florida, Nov. 19, 2020.
Lynne Sladky/AP

Texas

PHOTO: Soldier from the U.S. Army 36th Infantry Division help distribute turkeys and other holiday food items during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry event in Arlington, Texas, Nov. 20, 2020.
Soldier from the U.S. Army 36th Infantry Division help distribute turkeys and other holiday food items during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry event in Arlington, Texas, Nov. 20, 2020. Over 5,000 families received the holiday food items during the event that took place in a parking lot outside AT&T Stadium. (AP
Tony Gutierrez/AP

Over 5,000 families received holiday food items during the event that took place in a parking lot outside AT&T Stadium in Austin, Texas.

PHOTO: Volunteer Henry Fillmore of Arlington, Texas, places a frozen turkey in to the trunk of a vehicle during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry distribution event in Arlington, Texas, Nov. 20, 2020.
Volunteer Henry Fillmore of Arlington, Texas, places a frozen turkey in to the trunk of a vehicle during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry distribution event in Arlington, Texas, Nov. 20, 2020. Thanksgiving holiday food items were distributed to over 5,000 families during the event that took place in a parking lot outside AT&T Stadium.
Tony Gutierrez/AP
PHOTO: Volunteers for the Central Texas Food Bank load food into vehicles at a food distribution event in Austin, Texas, Nov. 23, 2020.
Volunteers for the Central Texas Food Bank load food into vehicles at a food distribution event in Austin, Texas, Nov. 23, 2020.
Jordan Vonderhaar/Shutterstock

Iowa

PHOTO: A child volunteering at a food distribution carries bags of food to people in line during a Thanksgiving food distribution at a park in Des Moines, Iowa during a snowstorm, Nov. 23, 2020.
A child volunteering at a food distribution carries bags of food to people in line during a Thanksgiving food distribution at a park in Des Moines, Iowa during a snowstorm, Nov. 23, 2020. The food distribution was organized by Urban Dreams, a community empowerment NGO in central Des Moines, and the NAACP. The Food Bank of Iowa said food insecurity in Des Moines has doubled since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Jack Kurtz/Zuma

The food distribution was organized by Urban Dreams, a community empowerment NGO in central Des Moines, Iowa, and the NAACP. The Food Bank of Iowa said food insecurity in Des Moines has doubled since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois

PHOTO: People wait in line to receive a free turkey on behalf of Chance The Rapper charitable foundation SocialWorks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, on Nov. 23, 2020.
People wait in line to receive a free turkey on behalf of Chance The Rapper charitable foundation SocialWorks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, on Nov. 23, 2020.
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Utah

PHOTO: A volunteer carries food to waiting cars at the Utah Food Bank's mobile food pantry, Nov. 12, 2020, in West Valley City, Utah.
A volunteer carries food to waiting cars at the Utah Food Bank's mobile food pantry, Nov. 12, 2020, in West Valley City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP

Massachusetts

PHOTO: Children react as Santa visits The Salvation Army's food pantry at Manning Field in Lynn, Mass. to spread a little holiday cheer on Nov. 16, 2020.
Children react as Santa visits The Salvation Army's food pantry at Manning Field in Lynn, Mass. to spread a little holiday cheer on Nov. 16, 2020. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the food pantry served an average of 60 families a day. That number has increased to over 600 families daily as more residents face financial hardship and food insecurity.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army's food pantry at Manning Field in Lynn, Massachusetts, served an average of 60 families a day. That number has increased to over 600 families daily as more residents face financial hardship and food insecurity.

Indiana

PHOTO: Drivers wait in line up as Pantry 279 food bank to distributes Thanksgiving meals at Hoosier Hills food bank in Bloomington, Indiana, Nov. 11,2020.
Drivers wait in line up as Pantry 279 food bank to distributes Thanksgiving meals at Hoosier Hills food bank in Bloomington, Indiana, Nov. 11,2020.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

New Jersey

PHOTO: A volunteer moves an "out of food" sign during the Meadowlands Area YMCA and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey food drive ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in East Rutherford, N.J., Nov. 24, 2020.
A volunteer moves an "out of food" sign during the Meadowlands Area YMCA and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey food drive ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in East Rutherford, N.J., Nov. 24, 2020.
Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters
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