These Photos Show the Staggering Food Bank Lines Across America

America’s hunger is being captured by photographers across the country.

There are so many events that are taking place throughout America that are unprecedented to the times.

Our economy is teetering on the edge. Terrorism is at levels like never before seen. Christian persecution is not only happening more and more throughout the world, but we are also seeing it within the borders of America. It seems that everything that can be divided is.  It may appear as the worst of times but we must remember that we will also experience the best of times. Heidi Baker shared about this recently while speaking on

“I had a vision in your church and it wasn’t what I expected to see. … I saw bread lines, soup kitchens, and I saw people wearing beautiful clothing. Their clothing was not worn out.” She continues, “The worriers turned into worshipping warriors.”


When she asked the Lord why she was seeing the lines, The Lord responded, “Because it’s a suddenly.”When she continued to ask about what to do,

The Lord continued to respond to her, “Tell them what you see in Mozambique, they will see in America with the signs and wonders and miracles.”

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis,

Food banks across the United States

Thousands line up at US food pantries as hunger surges due to coronavirus crisis

By Julian James and Kate Randall
11 April 2020

The death toll in the United States surpassed that of Spain on Friday, with more than 18,400 fatalities recorded. For the first time, the daily death toll exceeded 2,000. Over the past three weeks, 16.8 million Americans have filed for jobless claims in the largest and fastest wave of job cuts on record.

Workers who have been laid off or furloughed are facing the very real prospect of hunger. With supermarket shelves emptied of staples and cupboards increasingly bare, people are lining up in record numbers at food pantries across the country.

Boxes of food are distributed by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, at a drive thru distribution in downtown Pittsburgh, 10 April, 2020 [Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar]

In San Antonio, Texas on Thursday, traffic stretched for over five miles as cars lined up for a food distribution organized by the San Antonio Food Bank at Traders Village. Six thousand converged for the giveaway, with some arriving over 12 hours early to make sure they received food.

Four hundred volunteers gave out 200 pounds of food per car, including fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen chicken and pork, and Easter candy. “We have to do this to survive,” Albert St. Clair told NEWS4SA.”

On Facebook, organizers posted the comments of one of those who came. “Since the coronavirus hit, it is hard to find food,” Ms. Honore said. “Seniors need to eat too. The food is scarce and it’s getting more expensive.”

Charitable food distribution organizations are being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current outbreak, aside from directly threatening the lives of those who contract the virus, is rapidly impoverishing many hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. At the same time, shortages of manpower and logistical challenges are overwhelming the ability of food distribution organizations to provide assistance. There is a serious danger of a dramatic reduction of access to food and levels of hunger not seen since the Great Depression.

Also on Thursday, hundreds of Los Angeles residents lined up for free food handed out by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Several tons of shelf-stable food, frozen meat and fresh fruit were distributed to families impacted by the city’s collapsing economy, mass layoffs and reductions in work hours. The food bank says the distribution will be enough to keep families going for a few days but is uncertain what resources will be available in the future.

On March 30, hundreds of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -area residents waited for hours, beginning at 7 a.m., in a mile-long lineup of cars to receive two boxes of food being given out by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Aerial footage was shot showing hundreds of cars waiting in line to access food bank supplies in the city. Pittsburgh has seen food bank usage increase by 543 percent in recent days.

Chronic hunger, exacerbated by the pandemic, has been a decades-long problem for the American working class. In 2019, the US Department of Agriculture reported that more than 37 million people—over 10 percent of the population—faced difficulty obtaining enough food. Those most likely to face hunger were households with children, with an estimated 11 million children classified as food insecure.

The scourge of hunger is felt in every geographical region, though it is especially acute in the South, the Deep South, the Southwest and Alaska, compounded by state governments with onerous restrictions on who can receive aid.

In Palm Beach, Florida, a four-minute drive from President Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort, the kitchen staff at Howley’s Restaurant have been cooking free meals for the thousands of workers from Palm Beach’s closed restaurants and resorts. Rodney Mayo, whose 17-location Subculture restaurant group owns Howley’s, started handing out brown-bag lunches and dinners from the diner’s parking lot on March 21, having had to lay off 650 workers the day before. The restaurant group gave away 15,000 meals in the first 10 days.

Hillary Gale, spokeswoman for Feeding South Florida, said in a statement, “Normally we serve around 706,000 food-insecure folks throughout the quad-county [from Palm Beach to Monroe counties] and we are seeing a 600 percent increase due to COVID-19.”

At least 100,000 people have filed for unemployment in Alabama since the pandemic began. The Food Bank of North Alabama reports that three times the normal number of people are getting food from the organization.

Shirley Schofield, executive director of the food bank, told local media, “We have spent about $130,000 just on food alone. That doesn’t count any of the fuel of the trucks or the people to distribute the food. That’s just in the past few weeks. Normally it would take us six months, or a quarter of a year, to spend that money.”

The tens of millions of families that rely on food banks and other charitable organizations to bridge the gap are now faced with reduced access to one of their only lifelines. While food banks and similar programs are reporting an average increase in usage of 40 percent, the need has grown far greater in some areas.

Problems related to the sudden surge in demand are being compounded by a host of other difficulties arising from the pandemic, including increased retail purchases of non-perishable foods, which normally make up the bulk of food assistance. Shelves are bare in stores that previously donated excess products to food pantries.

The ramped-up demand at supermarkets has also resulted in food manufacturers reducing their donations to hunger relief organizations. As a result, pantries have been forced to increase direct purchases of food, draining their budgets while they wait for supplies from the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which received a funding increase from two recent federal “rescue packages.”

Another problem hindering food distribution organizations, like the country’s hospital and transportation sectors, is a critical lack of manpower. Finding enough volunteers to staff food banks and other programs is becoming increasingly difficult due to safety measures and increased need.

The highly contagious COVID-19 virus has forced operations to adopt social distancing measures, thereby changing how food is distributed. Instead of clients entering food banks to select items themselves, many of those seeking relief must now drive up to the distribution point with their trunks open, resulting in hundreds of cars waiting in line for hours.

This, in turn, requires traffic control and the sourcing of new sites suitable for such an operation. Staff must also pre-assemble the boxes to minimize human interactions and ensure social distancing, which takes time and labor.

At the same time, staffing levels are down overall due to illness, unemployment, insufficient personal safety equipment and a sudden lack of childcare as schools are closed. In Pittsburgh and other locations, including Louisiana, some food kitchens are now relying on the National Guard to continue providing services. In other areas such as Central Florida, dozens of feeding programs have been shut down due to a shortage of manpower.

Feeding America, a private network that operates 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs across the US, estimates that $1.4 billion will be needed to feed America’s hungry during the coronavirus pandemic. Should the state shutdowns last for months, the need for food assistance will rise.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America network, recently appeared on Fox News to appeal for donors, stating, “I have never had an awareness of anything so jarring, so replete with challenges as what the charitable food system is facing right now, and that’s because of what it means for people who are facing hunger… The people who are showing up, so many of them, are people who have never needed us before… People who never dreamt they would need the charitable food system to feed themselves and their family are showing up.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced last week that he would be donating $100,000 to Feeding America. This paltry sum is an insult to both America’s hungry and the nation’s grocery and delivery workers, who are risking their lives working with little protection during the pandemic.

Bezos, with a net worth $117.2 billion at last count, has treated his own employees at Amazon and Whole Foods with contempt, forcing them to work with little protective equipment alongside coworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19. Testing has been denied. Amazon workers have joined Instacart and other delivery workers in walkouts to protest these unsafe conditions.

Snapshots of food banks across the country give an indication of the extreme need facing families:

  • In Maine, the Good Shepherd Food Bank helps supply 450 partner food pantries across the state, serving about 178,000 people a year. Since the COVID-19 crisis, need has doubled, but donations are down 70 percent.
  • In the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, the Hunger Task Force has instructed food pantries to reduce how much they provide. Beginning in March, pantries were encouraged to provide customers with two weeks of food. That is now down to 3–5 days a month.
  • In Omaha, Nebraska, donations for March to the Food Bank for the Heartland dropped by nearly half. The food bank, which typically purchases $73,000 of food in a month, has spent $675,000 in the past four weeks.
  • In Seattle, Washington, where the outbreak in the US began, independent food bank Northwest Harvest estimates that Washington state has gone from 800,000 people struggling with hunger to 1.6 million since the crisis began.
  • In New York City, the current global epicenter of the pandemic, a little over a month since the first case of COVID-19 was detected, Hunger Free America says that about one-third of the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens have closed. City Harvest reports that 74 of the 400 soup kitchens, food pantries and other food programs across New York’s five boroughs have shut down, due either to precautionary measures or a lack of staffing, as volunteers stay home for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

uggling amid droves of hungry Americans in need of a meal. And images from photographers around the country show the horrifying number of Americans lining up to receive food assistance.

Anaheim, California: Cars were lined up about a half mile long in both directions of the 57 Freeway to get to Second Harvest Food BankMindy Schauer/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register/Getty

“We’re looking at an increase of 17.1 million people over the course of the next six months,” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, one of the country’s largest hunger-relief organizations, told NBC News. Babineaux-Fontenot highlighted a 98 percent increase in demand for free food and Feeding America, expects to lose $1.4 billion trying to survive.

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Cars line up at a drive-thru food pantry. Neil Blake/Grand Rapids Press/AP
Des Moines, Iowa: Over 100,000 Iowans filed first time claims for unemployment in the last three weeks. People started lining up 3 hours before the food distribution began.Jack Kurtz/ZUMA

In San Antonio, ten thousand cars waited at a food distribution point run by the San Antonio Food Bank. CEO Eric Cooper told NBC’s Hoda Kotb on the Today Show that the bank typically feeds about 60,000 people a week—it’s now about 120,000 people a week.

According to the Guardian, the number of people lining up in Phoenix, Arizona has tripled. Across southern Arizona, it doubled. In Las Vegas, where demand is up by 30 percent, one of the largest food pantries has shuttered 170 out of 180 locations. In Massachusetts, food pantries increased distribution by 849 percent.

Des Moines, Iowa: Maria Cunningham sorts bags of food before a drive through emergency food distribution at First DSM Church. DSM has increased their food pantry from one day weekly to three days per week.Jack Kurtz/ZUMA
Detroit, Michigan: The Gleaners Community Food Bank distributes free food to residents in need in southwest Detroit.Jim West/ZUMA

Sheila Christopher, director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, told the Guardian that she’s “been in this business over 30 years, and nothing compares to what we’re seeing now.” Jennifer McLean, the CEO of NYC’s City Harvest, told the New York Times that the need they’re seeing now dwarfs other crises like Hurricane Sandy and even September 11th.

People wait in their cars Thursday, at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. 10,000 people seek San Antonio Food Bank help.William Luther/San Antonio Express News/ZUMA

But as more Americans find themselves relying on these organizations, those running these programs are facing the pandemic too. Dependent on volunteers, food banks across the country are coming up short on labor while people hunker down. In places like Washington state and Louisiana the National Guard has been called in to help with labor shortages. The Washington Post reported that many volunteer shifts have been canceled, because much of the labor that food banks rely on is comprised of retirees and senior citizens. To top it all off, Feeding America reported that they’ve seen a 64 percent decrease in donations.

The images are almost apocalyptic, flashing by in the collage of pictures that populate the intro to a sci-fi film. They’re also becoming frighteningly common.

Sunrise, Florida: Feeding South Florida has seen a 600 percent increase in the those asking for food aid as people, some of whom have lost jobs, need to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic.Joe Raedle/Getty
We didn’t know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we’re thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn’t have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That’s so powerful. Especially during what’s been called a “media extinction event” when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.The months and years ahead won’t be easy. Far from it. But there’s no one we’d rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.



Heidi Baker: ‘This is 9-1-1 for Christians; God needs all hands on deck’


Influential ministry leader Heidi Baker is calling on the bride of Christ to put on her oil and shine the light of Jesus to a desperate world made fearful by the pandemic wreaking sickness and death among the nations.

“People are panicked right now,” Baker acknowledged. “Right now the world is shaking financially, physically, and emotionally. The world is shaking in every arena.”

Heidi and Rolland Baker founded Iris Global in 1980, and currently operate feeding programs for thousands of orphans, run free health clinics, manage primary and secondary schools and have fostered several thousand church plants from their base in Mozambique.

Many are terrified, she acknowledged, wondering how they will feed their families, wondering what they will do, how they will survive. Airlines are not flying. People are in terror.

“What are we going to do?” she asked. “The body of Christ needs to wake up. It’s 9-1-1. Fix your eyes on Jesus. All hands on deck.”

She spoke to Pastor Hiram Pangilinan from Manila on a YouTube video recorded March 13th. They had planned to be part of a Loving Jesus Revival Conference, but it was cancelled due to the health crisis.

“What does the body of Christ look like in a pandemic?” she asked. “How do we love Jesus when we can’t gather more than 10 or 20 people together? All of us now are going to shine.”

Even those under quarantine can make the best of the situation if they find greater intimacy with God. “If you get quarantined, that should be a joyful thing for you, because you’re going to have two weeks in the secret place, worshipping the Lord, where you can get into the Word of God, where you can go into the glory, where you can be filled with the power and the presence of the Most High God,” she declared.

Prophetically, she has been seeing a hard time like this coming for several years. “I have been prophesying this for years,” she said. “I saw bread lines and soup kitchens, but they were people wearing good clothes. They were not raggedy like the Mozambicans…they were hungry.”

“This is the greatest time for the church to shine,” she said. “We are the hands of Jesus. We are the feet of Jesus. We are called to be a voice of Jesus,” she said.

Because conferences and large gathering have been cancelled, it is a time for one-on-one ministry. “I’m not speaking to 10,000 people today. I’m not speaking to 5, 000 people today. I’m not speaking to 50, but every single person I came across today I blessed. I prayed for them. I didn’t feel led to hug them all. You need to seek the Lord (about that). If a hug puts fear in them, don’t hug them.”

“I am calling the beautiful bride. Large gatherings stopped, but loving Jesus, that has not stopped in any way. You are going to rise up now and you, beautiful bride of Christ, you are going to shine,” she declared.

Like the Good Samaritan, you will be called to minister to the person God places in your path. “It’s time to care for the one in need. It’s 9-1-1. Who are we? We are the first responders. Put that (airplane oxygen) mask on. Make sure you’re hydrated. Make sure you wash your hands. Make sure you’re in the glory. Make sure you take care of your family.

“The greatest oxygen mask for us is intimacy with Jesus. We come close to Jesus right now.”

Pastor Hiram said he sees the darkness that has descended on Manila. “There is darkness, not just in metro Manila, but all over the world. Even though there is thick darkness over the peoples, the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Something good will come out of this. God is going to use this darkness to shine forth his light. Light shines brightest in the darkness. Jesus is going to be so beautiful in this season.”

Heidi faced another crisis in March 2019 when Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique with winds of 120 and gusts up to 175 mph. It was the worst tropical cyclone to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. “When the cyclone hit Mozambique we didn’t say let’s have a conference. We didn’t say let’s fill the stadium. We said let’s all ask Jesus what we’re meant to do. The ones who had chainsaws went out and cut trees. The ones who could cook, cooked for the teams. Some rescued people from dying under the mud.

“All of us were all hands on deck. In a disaster, it’s all hands on deck. Everybody is called to shine.”

“The Scripture is so clear. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Be strong. Take heart and wait for the Lord.”