COVID-19

Local food banks see increased need with federal assistance program set to end

Samantha Fields Oct 23, 2020
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City of Opa-locka employees and volunteers place groceries provided by the food bank Feeding South Florida into the vehicles of patrons at a drive-thru distribution site on April 14, 2020 in Opa-locka, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

Local food banks see increased need with federal assistance program set to end

Samantha Fields Oct 23, 2020
Heard on:
City of Opa-locka employees and volunteers place groceries provided by the food bank Feeding South Florida into the vehicles of patrons at a drive-thru distribution site on April 14, 2020 in Opa-locka, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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Update (Oct. 23, 2020): The USDA announced on Friday that it is extending the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which delivers food to food banks like Feeding South Florida under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, through December. It was originally set to end on Oct. 31.

The most recent data from the Census Bureau’s weekly household survey found that, for the week ending Oct. 12, more than 22 million people reported that they had sometimes or often not had enough to eat in the last seven days. And food banks are seeing more and more people who need help.

Paco Vélez oversees a food bank that serves four counties as the CEO of Feeding South Florida. He said when the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, “all of a sudden, overnight, we saw a 30% jump in our distributions.”

Across the country, demand at food banks is up 60% over this time last year, and has been for months, said Kate Leone of Feeding America.

“At the same time, we’re looking at less food coming in through federal programs through the food bank system,” Leone said.

One of those, under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, initially provided 160 truckloads a week of food to Feeding South Florida, Vélez said. Now, that’s down to 60 truck loads, and the program is set to end this month. And, he’s concerned, because already “we don’t have enough food to get it to those families,” Vélez said

And, he said Feeding South Florida is having to go out and ask for more donations to purchase food.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do vaccines mean for economic recovery?

COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon, according to expert witnesses who testified at a recent hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee. Put simply, we can’t eradicate the virus because it infects other species, and there will also be folks who choose not to get the vaccine or don’t mount an immune response, according to Dr. Céline Gounder at NYU School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital. “That means we can’t only rely on vaccination,” Gounder said. She said the four phases of recovering from the pandemic are ending the emergency, relaxing mitigation measures, getting to herd immunity and having long-term control.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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