Need for food growing during COVID-19 pandemic

VIDEO: Need for food growing during COVID-19 pandemic

SEATTLE — With thousands out of work, the number needing food in our area has doubled.

It is estimated to be even higher in other places around the country.

That has at least one agency coming up with novel ways to meet the demand.

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When the people at Food Lifeline realized they weren’t reaching every needy family at local food banks, they turned the parking lot at Northgate Mall and three other places into mobile food distribution sites.

“Any family that was struggling or near struggling is now really having a hard time,” said Mark Coleman, spokesman for Food Lifeline.

That accounts, he says, for the hundreds of vehicles lined up to pick up food for free.

“In the last week, we served 3,000 families, and we provided them with 8,500 boxes,” said Coleman. “That’s about 200,000 pounds of food.”

The picture is bleak across the country, too.

“Forty percent, on average, of the people that we’re seeing now, have never relied upon the charitable food system before now,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America.

Babineaux-Fontenot told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that this shows changes are needed in the nation’s food stamp or SNAP program.

“We have data that shows that for every $1 invested in SNAP, the return is $1.70,” she said. “So there are lots of good reasons for all of us to be thinking about and urging our members of Congress to pass additional legislation so that we can increase access to SNAP.”

A sentiment echoed here: “Because we can’t foodbank our way of this crisis,” said Coleman.

Now they are trying to figure out what the future holds.

“I think we’re still going to be needed,” said Coleman. “People have a lot going on right now. They have a lot of stresses, a lot of concerns, a lot of worries. We think that food shouldn’t be one of them.”

And Food Lifeline is working to make sure it isn’t a concern.

Donations are actually up here, so they are planning to hold as many as seven new mobile distribution sites this week to help out those in need.

No identification is required. The only question they will ask is for the family’s zip code so they can keep track of where the need is greatest.