- At least 2,000 families waited in line at a drive-through food bank in California
- The demand for food assistance tripled in recent months
- More than 40% of Americans are struggling to afford food
Thousands of Americans are lining up at food banks across the country this week, prompting a University of Houston professor to sign a letter urging Congress to distribute a second stimulus check by January.
At least 2,000 families waited in line for three hours at a temporary drive-through food back in Lancaster, California, on Tuesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Michael Flood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, said the organization now distributes to 900,000 people each month.
“If you told me in January, your distribution is going to increase 145% and you’ll be reaching 900,000 people per month by the fall, I would have said, ‘I don’t think so,’” Flood told CNBC.
In Ohio, people lined up outside of the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati despite the temperature being a chilly 42 degrees. The organization served 374 people on a single day, up from 100 people a day at the beginning of the pandemic.
Video released by CNN on Tuesday showed people outside the Meadowlands entertainment complex in New Jersey, where prepackaged Thanksgiving meals were being distributed. Some waited for more than five hours.
In San Jose, California, CityTeam program manager Hermie Smit said the demand for food assistance had tripled in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.
“We’re on track to serve about 5,000, maybe more,” he said.
The economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to plunge more than 50 million Americans into food insecurity by the end of 2020. More than 40% of Americans also reported struggling to afford something to eat, according to new statistics from Feeding America.
More than half of those experiencing food insecurity said the lack of federal aid, including a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks and weekly unemployment benefits, has exacerbated the situation.
The statistics prompted the Economic Security Project to send a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass a fresh wave of direct payments. The letter was signed by 125 economists, including University of Houston professor Dietrich Vollrath.
“I signed onto the letter regarding another round of direct payments, not because I think that’s the single best policy, but I’d rather see that than nothing,” Vollrath told ABC13.
Vollrath argued that while a second stimulus check would cost the U.S. government billions, it would help families pay off debts and stimulate the economy. He also emphasized the need to pass an economic package before the end of 2020 to prevent thousands of families from getting evicted.
“If we get into January, we’re going to miss a lot of families,” Vollrath said. “They’re going to be kicked out of their houses. They’re going to be struggling to feed themselves.”