Drone photos have captured nearly 12,000 cars lining up for emergency food aid from before dawn today in San Antonio, Texas – nearly 2,000 more than the week before.
A photograph taken from a drone of the packed parking lot fully captured just how many people are in now in need of assistance when it comes to simply eating.
The sheer scale of the problem mirrors what the country saw in the nation’s jobless figures this week with more than 20 million Americans now unemployed – virtually all of them laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic.
People wait in their cars at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. The coronavirus pandemic has provoked a spike in demand for food pantries in the U.S.
People waiting in line to get food at the San Antonio Food Bank distribution center being held in the parking lot at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas, are checked
A man wearing a bandana is reflected in his side mirror while a volunteer loads the car in front of him as he waits in line to get food at the San Antonio Food Bank distribution center
Thousands of people have been showing up and waiting in long lines to get food from the Food Bank
The San Antonio Food Bank served 12,000 families who all showed up in their cars to receive a food handout on Friday
Several thousand residents, affected by the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic, lined-up in their vehicles as they await their turn to collect groceries from the San Antonio Food Bank in San Antonio, Texas
The San Antonio Food Bank runs a massive 200,000sq warehouse on the outskirts of the city.
It has been stocked full of fruit including apples, oranges and watermelons along with a host of vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and onions and protein including chicken, ground beef and tater tots.
‘We stock refrigerated, frozen and nonperishable food items so it moves through our facility at a fairly rapid pace,’ said food bank CEO Eric Cooper to NPR. ‘Obviously, now in the midst of COVID-19, the demand far outpaces the supply.’
In a normal week, the food bank would be providing supplies for 500 food pantries across South Texas feeding around 60,000 people – but that number has now doubled.
Last week some 6,000 people preregistered for food distribution but by the time the food bank opened up, word had spread and an additional 4,000 cars had showed up.
‘I panicked. I’ve never seen a line that long,’ Cooper said. ‘So I called our warehouse to send more trucks, to get more food on site. But we, in the end, served 10,000 families.’
The pictures which show a parking lot full of waiting vehicles serve as a stark reminder of the current economic crisis
The Food Bank served more than 10,000 people last week and ended up serving another 12,000 this Friday
The San Antonio Food Bank went viral after pictures of people in cars waiting in lines at Traders Village circled the Internet
One-year-old Eileen Tavera and her sheep dog Charlie look out of their vehicle as they wait in line with thousands of others
Cooper believes that half of those of those coming to the food bank are doing so for the first time.
‘We are going to need families to weather this crisis,’ Cooper said to News4SanAntonio. ‘They are going to need to apply for several public benefits along with getting food from the food bank if we’re going to have enough food to nourish them and their loved ones.’
‘I never, ever could have even imagined anything like this,’ said. Erica Campos, 42, who drove to the food bank for the very first time.
Campos, a single mother, had a stable job working in a bank and even owns her own home but had two young mouths to feed at home.
‘I was almost ashamed, to be honest, to even pick up food from the food bank because somebody might look at my used Cadillac and be like, ‘What is she doing in the food bank line?’ But I had to get past those feelings of shame. There’s no shame in feeding my children.’
A driver wearing a facemask is reflected in a mirror as volunteers help the San Antonio Food Bank distribute food
Volunteers help the San Antonio Food Bank distribute food at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Friday. The city remains under stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak
The bank was ready to distribute even more food to those who have registered and encourage more to sign up
Last week, the San Antonio Food Bank fed about 10,000 households in a single day — the largest distribution day in the organization’s history – and it’s believed it served even more this week
A volunteer wears protective gear as he helps the San Antonio Food Bank distribute food to thousands
The San Antonio Food Bank is getting assistance from FEMA and will be getting around 140 semi truckloads of food, which will help bolster the food supply for a month
The first car in line waits along with other people to get food at the San Antonio Food Bank distribution center
Judging by the huge numbers of people showing up at San Antonio parking lot it is clear that those affected are from across the spectrum and not just the poorest members of society.
‘What we’re seeing at the San Antonio Food Bank, Feeding America food banks are seeing all over the country,’ said the group’s spokesperson Zaina Villareal.
‘The pandemic is showing the fragility of families’ household budgets,’ she added. ‘With one lost paycheck, many families are figuring out how to put food on the table.’
‘Being a steward of the resources of the food that we have, especially in a rationed environment … the biggest challenges for us is when we see families that need, and when we don’t have all the resources that we want to give them, that’s what breaks our heart. And that’s what really emboldens us to ask the community for help,’ said Michael Guerra, chief development officer of the SA Food Bank.
‘There’s nothing we hate more than someone being turned away, but we’re only bringing so much food. So we know if more come, we won’t be able to serve them all,’ he said.
On Friday, a second San Antonio Food Bank set up another pop-up distribution center. By the time the food packages began being delivered, more than 2,000 cars area already in line with some waiting all night long.
The San Antonio Food Bank will also be getting assistance from FEMA and they will be receiving around 140 semi truckloads of food – enough for an entire month.
People show up to the food bank with their trunks open so that volunteers are easily able to load food into the back
Most drivers showed up as early as 6am in order to get a spot in line to receive the handouts. All had to pre-register online
A man wears a bandana as he waits for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin handing out supplies on Friday
Volunteers help the San Antonio Food Bank distribute food to thousands at the Alamodome in San Antonio
Everything from fruit and vegetables to protein ,along with basics such as bread and milk, was handed out to those in need