Food Banks See Higher Demand Than Usual Before Thanksgiving

Volunteers build bags of dry goods in a parking lot outside of AT&T Stadium during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry distribution event in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

Volunteers build bags of dry goods in a parking lot outside of AT&T Stadium during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry distribution event in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Officials fear food insecurity will worsen even more if federal programs adopted during the pandemic are allowed to expire.

Food pantries are used to long lines for meal giveaways ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

But as many Americans continue to cope with the effects of the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, local food banks say the need has been even greater this year.  

The North Texas Food Bank has distributed 60% more food during the pandemic than last year, doling out as much as 3 million pounds of food some weeks, said Valerie Hawthorne, the organization’s government relations director.

“People are seeking food assistance for the first time,” she said.  

The food bank works with a network of 200 pantries to provide food they then distribute across 13 counties. But during the pandemic, it started hosting two direct food giveaways a day to supplement the distribution network. One large-scale event held over the weekend provided enough food to feed 6,200 households.

“That’s the biggest one we’ve ever done,” Hawthorne said.  

With the jobless rate at 6.9% and more than 21 million Americans still receiving unemployment benefits through state and federal programs, food insecurity is a major concern across the country this year. Nearly 81 million adults reported it was somewhat or very difficult to cover usual household expenses including food, rent, car payments or medical expenses, according to a recent Census Bureau survey. And nearly 26 million adults reported that their household did not get enough to eat in the last week.

While enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, typically known as food stamps, has increased during the pandemic, experts say the support that local governments and organizations can provide at the community level is critical in addressing food insecurity during the pandemic. 

Many people who are facing financial difficulties may not qualify for unemployment or food stamps—such as workers who are still employed but have had their hours cut. That’s why it is important for cities to have broad outreach programs to ensure that residents who have not sought food assistance in the past know where they can get it, said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, on a recent call with reporters.

Local organizations say they have adjusted outreach and operations to meet that need.  

The North Texas Food Bank didn’t put a lot of effort into advertising its food giveaways before the pandemic, but the organization now uses social media to spread the word about its pop-up events in the community, Hawthorne said.

The North Capitol Collaborative, an organization that operates a food pantry in Washington, D.C., began offering food delivery service to seniors, the disabled and pregnant mothers, said Aleesha Cade, the organization’s human resources and finance director.

The organization operates a food bank every two weeks but began offering the delivery service after seniors expressed concern about leaving the house during the pandemic. It now delivers food to about 100 families each month.

The organization distributed food to about 350 families on Monday at its 18th annual Thanksgiving food basket giveaway. Typically, families can choose between a ham or turkey basket with Thanksgiving sides included, but this year attendees were hard pressed to choose between the two, Cade said.  

“People wanted everything they could get because the need is so great,” she said.

Food pantries were already struggling to keep up with elevated demand at the start of the pandemic. But with some pandemic assistance programs set to expire at the end of this year and no deal to renew federal aid in sight, many fear that the number of households experiencing food insecurity will only grow.

When the federal government stopped providing the $600-a-week enhanced unemployment benefits this summer, the number of people visiting food banks for assistance grew dramatically, Hawthorne said.

“It was very obvious. You saw the need on the ground,” she said.

Andrea Noble is a staff corespondent with Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: Poll: Most Americans Changing Thanksgiving Plans, Leery of Travel

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.