And now, in a dire sign of the times, the nation’s largest food bank reports that demand has nearly doubled (and more than doubled, on some occasions) since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
The Houston Food Bank is currently providing about 800,000 pounds of food each day after recently surpassing an unprecedented 1 million-pound mark in a first since the spring, The Associated Press reported on Monday. Before the pandemic struck, the pantry had an average daily distribution of 450,000 pounds.
“It had that feeling of a disaster, like the hurricanes in the Gulf,” Houston Food Bank President Brian Greene said of the overnight demand. “It was shocking how the lines exploded so quickly.”
About 126,500 families have received boxes of food each week from America’s largest food bank, powered by workers and volunteers who sort, pack and load the food onto trucks, which travel to distribution sites through the greater Houston area.
Feeding America, a national network of 200 food banks, has also seen demand nearly double from the winter to the spring and summer of this year. Katie Fitzgerald, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the nonprofit, echoed that the food distribution surge “has stayed at a surge level" with no sign of demand ceasing.
Feeding America provided 2 billion pounds of food from April through June, up from 1.3 billion pounds from January to March.
On a national level, some extra help is on the way. The USDA recently announced the authorization of $500 million to fuel a fourth round of food purchases for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, delivering fresh produce, dairy, milk and meat to Americans in need. Over 110 million food boxes have been distributed through the program since the first round of delivery in May.
The U.S. economy lost a devastating 22 million jobs at the start of the pandemic, and 10.7 million have not recovered.
Fox News’ Brittany De Lea, Jeanette Settembre and the Associated Press contributed to this report.