Eric Cooper, CEO of San Antonio Food Bank, told CNBC that his Texan food bank is now feeding twice as many people as it was before the coronavirus pandemic in the US.
"Before the pandemic, we fed about 60,000 people a week and now we're seeing about 120,000 a week and most of them are new to the food bank and have never had to ask for help," Cooper told The News during a Tuesday night interview with Shepard Smith ".
Cooper's grocery bank supplies people in need with eight truckloads of groceries a day. The numbers are so high that they have to ration food. Rhode Island Community Food Bank organizers say one in four people cannot get their basic food needs. That is the highest value since the Great Depression.
According to Feeding America, 54 million people in the US do not have access to enough food. That's about 13 million more than last year and more than the total populations of Texas and Florida.
"Today we had a distribution that was feeding 2,000 and we have those distributions all the time," Cooper said. "Food banks across the country have seen this unprecedented demand, and we're working as hard as possible to balance the private donations we receive with public support to ensure people are fed."
In the south, the positivity rate is 11% and the region accounts for about a third of all coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations across the country, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. On Tuesday, Texas reported an all-time high of nearly 14,000 new cases. Cooper told host Shepard Smith that distance learning puts a particular strain on parents when it comes to providing food for their children.
"A child would miss 10 meals in a week, and if a mother has two to three children in school, she is now feeling the effects of the cost of that meal at home and children starving without employment," said Cooper. "We hear from schools that children are struggling with their education because they do not have access to good nutrition."
With food insecurity rising, federal funding was critical to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which has provided food banks with $ 850 million this year. Cooper said he hoped Congress would act swiftly to help families get them out of the ranks of the food banks and into grocery stores.
"We just hope Congress moves quickly. The stimulus package needs to help families put food on the table," Cooper said.
Cooper said if anyone wanted to help they should visit FeedingAmerica.org, find their local food bank, and get involved through food donation, volunteering, or a financial contribution.