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A line of to people standing six feet apart snaked around a parking lot and multiple city blocks in downtown Los Angeles. Many were hotel and restaurant workers, Dodger Stadium employees and airline chefs. One by one, they walked down a row of gloved volunteers who packed bags with spaghetti sauce, canned meat, kidney beans, frozen whole chickens, sliced ham, milk, fresh apples, dry milk, bread and more.
It was the second day of a pop-up distribution that served 1, people. Across the state, the need for food assistance is growing amid the coronavirus pandemic as businesses shut down, hundreds of thousands of Californians lose wages and seniors and the ill are isolated at home.
During normal times food banks across the state serve about 2 million Californians each year. Half were people who never had used the food bank before, said Michael Altfest, director of community engagement and marketing. He expects the surge to continue, perhaps even worsen.
In one indication that the worst is yet to come, the state received 80, unemployment applications on Tuesday, compared to 40, a few days before and the typical load of about 2, per day, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a live streamed address on Wednesday. Most are working families, she said. The first car arrived an hour and a half in advance to secure a spot in line. Jimmy Panetta said he met yesterday with four National Guard personnel at that food bank to assess needs.
But food banks are facing precipitous drops in volunteers. While many distribution sites have closed, others are popping up. In San Francisco and Marin County, more than 90 distribution sites have closed but the food bank that serves both counties has set up six new sites at schools. At Oakland Unified schools, families can pick up 15 pound bags from the food bank alongside drive-thru free and reduced meal services. Other food banks said they would launch similar distributions soon.
Daniel Jones picked up several bags of food at a distribution at Sankofa Academy in Oakland on Thursday. Newsom has extended the eligibility period by 90 days for safety net benefits like food stamps, Medi-Cal, welfare and in-home supportive services. Arlene Krauss is scared. The year-old has an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness.
The cafeteria at her affordable senior home in Redwood City has cancelled daily hot meals. So has a nearby senior day center. Just underseniors receive federally-funded meals at group settings or home delivery programs like Meals on Wheels. Seniors can seek guidance and assistance by calling their Area Agencies on Aging. Anne Wernikoff contributed to this reporting. Jackie Botts is a reporter at CalMatters.
This article is part of The California Dividea collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California. We want to hear from you. Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here.
Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions: commentary calmatters. Jackie covers income inequity and economic survival for the The California Divide collaboration. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in for a Reuters data-driven investigative More by Jackie Botts.
Vega, 76, wears a mask, gloves and sunglasses to protect himself while out of the house. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters A line of to people standing six feet apart snaked around a parking lot and multiple city blocks in downtown Los Angeles. All had lost their jobs or were working reduced hours amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Regional Food Bank During normal times food banks across the state serve about 2 million Californians each year. On Tuesday and Wednesday, pop-up food distributions in Los Angeles served 1, tourism industry workers facing reduced wages or job loss. We want to hear from you Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? Jackie Botts jackie calmatters.Few days left seeking for a California
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