Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Vehicles lined up to receive food provided by the food bank Feeding South Florida and being given away by the City of Sunrise on April 06, 2020. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

'Unforgettable' Footage of Endless Line of Cars at Food Banks a Stark Illustration of Coronavirus Crisis in US

"It is outrageous that in the richest country in the history of the world, people are going hungry," said Bernie Sanders, who called for more urgent relief from Congress.

Eoin Higgins

Images and video of miles of cars lined up at food banks in San Antonio and other cities across the U.S. present a striking example of the economic effects of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which has thrown at least 16 million Americans out of work in recent weeks and increased pressure on the distribution centers to provide key staples for a flood of needy people in the country.

"Unforgettable image: thousands of cars lined up at a San Antonio food bank today, the desperate families inside kept safely apart," tweeted CNN senior editor Amanda Katz. "Breadline, 2020."

On Thursday, San Antonio Food Bank creative manager Robert R. Fike posted a time-lapse video of the line of cars waiting to get supplies. 

"It was a rough one today," San Antonio Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper told the San Antonio Express News. "We have never executed on as large of a demand as we are now."

The onset of the coronavirus outbreak brought with it economic paralysis across the U.S. and the world, shutting down businesses around the world as people use social distancing and isolation to curb the spread of the disease. In the U.S., where lawmakers have largely dragged their feet on providing unemployed people with help, Americans are increasingly turning to charities like food banks to provide the means of survival. 

Se. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an outspoken advocate for economic relief efforts, tweeted on Friday that the scenes from food banks were indicative of the need for immediate Congressional action.

"It is outrageous that in the richest country in the history of the world, people are going hungry," said Sanders.

According to the New York Times, food banks across the country are facing funding shortfalls in the face of increasing demand despite donations from the superrich:

Feeding America, the nation's largest network of food banks, with more than 200 affiliates, has projected a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months alone. Last week, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, announced that he was donating $100 million to the group—the largest single donation in its history, but still less than a tenth of what it needs.

In January 2019, Business Insider calculated Bezos makes roughly $4,474,885 every hour, making his donation to Feeding America the equivalent of around 22-and-a-half hours of passive wealth generation. 

San Antonio was not the only city to see record numbers of people seeking help and miles of cars waiting for food. Pittsburgh, Inglewood, Chicago, and Sunrise, Florida were among cities with packed roads leading to local facilities and massive amounts of food to be distributed. 

Feeding South Florida executive vice president Sari Vatske noted in an interview with the Daily Mail that with stay-at-home orders in her state curtailing the available workforce to handle an unprecedented surge in those needing aid, there may be trouble ahead in how to efficiently distribute the food. 

"The math is not on our side," said Vatske.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'End the Filibuster': GOP Ready to Tank Even Manchin's Compromise Voting Rights Bill

"Sen. Manchin searched for 10 Republicans to support voting rights legislation, but Republican senators willing to break with Sen. McConnell and stand on the right side of history simply don't exist."

Jessica Corbett ·


London Science Museum Accused of 'Jumping Into Bed With Big Coal' With Adani Sponsorship

"I can't believe that the Science Museum—of all institutions and this of all years—has accepted money from Adani, one of the greatest climate criminals."

Andrea Germanos ·


Chicago Groups Unite With Message to US Senate: 'Reject Rahm'

"Emanuel was more concerned with his own reelection than he was with justice for a child murdered on his watch. This is a complete slap in the face to Black America."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africa's Disappearing Glaciers Signal 'Irreversible' Threat to Earth System: Report

The authors of a U.N. report urge greater investment in climate adaptation and weather services on the continent.

Julia Conley ·


As Corporate Dems Belly-Ache Over Social Investments, Senate Panel Approves Extra $29 Billion for Pentagon

The Senate committee vote included $10 billion more than requested. "That's $100 billion over 10 years—or half the cost of universal pre-K, which we're told we can't afford," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo