The food bank dilemma: Experts warn that the government is not doing enough to protect millions of people lining up for emergency supplies as the huge crowds pose an opportunity for coronavirus transmission

Monday, April 13, 2020
By Paul Martin

Miles-long lines formed at food banks and unemployment offices across the US over the past week
Health experts warn that the large crowds put people seeking aid at high risk of contracting COVID-19
They’ve urged businesses to do more to keep people spread out while they wait in long queues for hours
They’ve also called for the government to do more to keep families from landing in those lines
Nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past week, pushing the jobless rate to 14.7%
Relief organizations are scrambling to keep up with unprecedented demand for food as invent

By MEGAN SHEETS
DAILYMAIL.COM
13 April 2020

Long lines continued to form outside food banks and unemployment offices across the United States over the weekend as the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on families, leaving many unsure of when their next paycheck will come.

Health experts have warned that more needs to be done to protect people seeking aid as the large crowds dramatically raise the risk of contracting the same virus that caused the widespread economic pain.

‘It’s worrisome,’ Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington who studies pandemics, told the New York Times. ‘It’s setting up unnecessary opportunities for transmission.’

Bergstrom and others are calling for businesses to be more vigilant in their efforts to spread people out when they’re forced to wait in such extensive queues.

They’re also urging the government provide more substantial support to Americans so they’re less likely to end up at food banks and unemployment offices in the first place.

Nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past week, pushing the jobless rate to it’s highest point since 1940 at 14.7 percent.

The IRS began depositing the first wave of $1,200 stimulus checks this weekend, but for many struggling families that money will not be nearly enough to keep food on the table as the pandemic persists.

Relief organizations scrambling to keep up with unprecedented demand for food and other basic essentials as thousands of people pass through emergency distribution sites in dozens of cities.

Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank (SAFB), described how the coronavirus crisis has affected his city in an interview with the TODAY Show on Monday morning.

Last Thursday, some 10,000 families lined up in their cars for hours at a massive SAFB distribution event called Mega Giveaway. Cooper said it was the worst level of demand he’s seen in 25 years with the food bank.

‘We were blown away and overwhelmed at the need in the community because of COVID-19,’ Cooper said.

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