Food banks are overwhelmed as demand for coronavirus increases

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The Las Vegas-based Three Square Food Bank previously distributed food to 180 pantries in Clark County. Since the epidemic – and the sudden closure of almost all of the city’s tourist and gaming attractions – the organization has restructured, with 10 pantries and 21 new distribution locations behind the wheel.

Larry Scott, chief operating officer of Three Square, said the group expected 200 to 250 cars a day each pass. They instead get up to 500 to 600 cars, with lines going up to four miles. “Every day we distribute everything we bring to a site,” said Scott.

The first glut of high-quality food from closed casinos has almost disappeared, said Scott. Now his food bank is spending an additional $ 300,000 to $ 400,000 a week in cash to buy food.

He said he saw no relief in sight. “What we do today needs to be repeated tomorrow, the next day, and the next day,” said Scott. “Hungry people go hungry every day.”

Ericka Smrcka, an official at the Heartland, Nebraska food bank, recently visited a mobile food distribution at a college in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She and a colleague arrived nearly an hour before it was planned to start finding blocked streets in all directions and the police directing traffic.

“We were overwhelmed with tears,” said Ms. Smrcka. ” Oh my God. Everywhere we looked, there were only cars. “

The delivery truck had enough boxes of food – products, bread and milk – for 200 vehicles. Some 400 showed up. Ms. Smrcka recalled her apprehension about driving from car to car with nothing more than a pamphlet describing alternative resources, thinking that she could be yelled at.

But that’s not what happened. “After sitting in their car for an hour and without receiving food, they still thanked,” she said, remembering in particular a father who had left work earlier and had picked up his three daughters and left empty-handed.

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