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Thousands Line Up For Food, As More San Diegans Lose Their Paychecks Due To Coronavirus

San Diego Food Bank workers distribute 25-lb packages of food to people in th...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: San Diego Food Bank workers distribute 25-lb packages of food to people in their cars at a pop-up food distribution site in Chula Vista, April 10, 2020.

With the rain pounding down, thousands of people lined up in their cars Friday morning at a San Diego Food Bank food distribution pop-up in Chula Vista. Food Bank officials say demand has gone up tremendously as an unprecedented number of people have lost their jobs amid the shutdowns brought on by the pandemic.

“We were feeding about 350,000 people a month before the crisis, we’re projecting we’re gonna start feeding 600,000 people this month,” said Jim Floros, the Food Bank’s CEO.

Floros said they’ve been doing these mass distributions to shorten lines at main distribution centers. The last one happened in Del Mar last week.

“People who’ve never been in need before, people who’ve never asked for help before are now needing help from the San Diego Food Bank,” Floros said.

One of those residents is Ricardo Hernandez, from Chula Vista. Hernandez says he’s not able to find work and has kids to feed.

“Because of the crisis we’re limited in being able to work, we can’t leave, we’re locked in the house", said the Spanish-speaking Hernandez. “Now I have to take advantage of whatever help people give.”

Reported by Shalina Chatlani , Video by Matthew Bowler

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Many of the people who lined up at the site are in the same boat. Only the first thousand cars were able to receive a 25-pound package that included food and other necessities like toilet paper.

The distribution site opened at 9 a.m., but it was at capacity before 8 a.m. Elisabeth Sial said she had to hustle to get to the site in time.

“I woke up at 5 o'clock and thinking of getting here early, I was surprised there was a long long long line already when I got here,” she said.

Food bank CEO Floros says they’re planning on having another large-scale food distribution this month. And those who aren’t able to make it to a mass distribution can still get food daily at the food bank’s 200 smaller distribution sites across the county.

“I don’t know of an instance where anyone got turned away,” Floros said.

Listen to this story by Shalina Chatlani.

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