Bay Area residents still relying on food banks amid economic crisis

One year into the pandemic and many Bay Area residents are still desperate for food.

Cars were lined up Wednesday at the Alameda County Food Bank, waiting to pick up boxes of grocery items.

"I'm helping out neighbors. Picking up some food for them and for me picking up some vegetables," said Julio Pincon of Oakland.

The emergency distribution program is still going full tilt. In March of 2020 when the COVID lockdown first went into effect, the food bank gave away 3.2 million pounds of food.

This March that amount has about doubled to six million pounds. In the past year, the food bank went from serving one in five county residents to one in four. Because of the pandemic, the cost of food is now five times what it was a year ago.

"Our worry is people will forget that this is going on. And it is going to go on. Distributions like this will happen for the next decade as we are trying to crawl out from this economic problem caused by the pandemic," said Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Food Bank.

Across the Bay, at the Mission Food Hub in San Francisco, people honored the birthday of the late labor leader and activist Cesar Chavez.

Organizers collected food donations for farmworkers in the Central Valley who are suffering because of the pandemic.

"The pandemic has caused them to get COVID and they can't work. And when they can't work they get no money. They don't have savings and 401Ks," said organizer Roberto Hernandez.

The food hub has gone from distributing food to 300 families a year ago to now more than 9,000. 

"You have people who lost their jobs a year ago. And they won't be able to go back to those jobs because a lot of those businesses are gone," Hernandez said.