“We’re seeing people from every socio-economic level because the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.”
As 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims last week—part of at least 10 million people in the U.S. who are out of work in the last two weeks due to the coornavirus pandemic—increasingly long lines at food banks across the country offered another grim illustration of the financial realities faced by the poor and working classes in the United States.
According to an investigation by The Guardian, demand at food banks has increased by eight times in some areas. About a third of people interviewed by the outlet at food banks last month had never before needed food assistance.
Kristin Warzocha, CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, said the trend was not surprising considering the precarious circumstances working Americans are accustomed to living in, with 78% of workers living paycheck to paycheck and 45% reporting that they have no savings account.
“We’re seeing people from every socio-economic level because the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck,” Warzocha told The Guardian.
The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, spread to every state in the U.S. in March and drove governments in 38 states to direct nearly 300 million people to stay home—forcing businesses across the country to close and lay off or furlough workers.
In Cleveland, The Guardian spoke with first-time food bank visitors including a freelance photographer, a woman who worked in the hospitality industry, and a cab driver.
At St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona, spokesman Jerry Brown reported that “people who knew about us because they donated or volunteered are coming in for food.”
“The 2008 recession doesn’t touch this,” Brown told The Guardian. “It’s a different ballgame.”