Pennsylvania Food Bank Draws Mile-long Line of Cars as Trump Approves State's Coronavirus Disaster Declaration

Motorists queued for up to five hours to access emergency provisions at a food bank near Pittsburgh as the economic impact of the coronavirus continues.

Video footage shown on CBS-affiliate KDKA shows the line of cars, spread across two lanes, snarling up the road leading to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne before it opened at midday on Monday.

KDKA reported that motorists had started arriving at the food bank from 7 a.m. Around 1,700 families managed to get their hands on the emergency supplies.

Portable toilets were set up every three-tenths of a mile and police officers directed traffic which stretched back to Route 837. To keep to strict rules on distancing, workers from the food bank loaded the boxes of the groceries into the trunks of cars as they got to the front of the line.

Hundreds of cars wait to receive food from the Greater Community Food Bank in Duquesne. Collection begins at noon. @PghFoodBank @PittsburghPG

— Andrew Rush (@andrewrush) March 30, 2020

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank network development director Charlese McKinney told the network said that she was anticipating "a greater need," and that it was important to know "what exactly we have, so we have enough to go out for the needs."

President Donald Trump approved Pennsylvania's major disaster declaration for the coronavirus pandemic on Monday when the state's Department of Health confirmed 693 new positive cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 11 new deaths, CBS reported.

The food bank located 10 miles outside of Pittsburgh is one of around 200 in the Feeding America network.

Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer at Feeding America told Newsweek that school closures, job disruptions and losses, lack of paid sick leave and the coronavirus's disproportionate impact on low-income families, meant that the pandemic's impact on hunger in the U.S. was "rising to new, unknown heights."

She said demand at its food banks had spiked dramatically in the last few weeks and that "we're already hearing reports that the demand is growing beyond those numbers in communities across the country."

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jason Grilli is pictured at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne, Pennsylvania in 2014 in this illustrative image. Lines of cars stretching for miles tried to access provisions at the food bank on Monday, due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

She said there had been a slump in retail food donations as people stocked up on food, causing temporary shortages of donations from retail establishments to food bank members.

"With demand in food skyrocketing and the supply hard to come by, many food banks are relying on current inventories to respond to the increase in demand.

"While that's worked in the short-term, we are getting to a point where food banks won't have inventory to meet demand in the weeks and months to come unless we can drive additional food and funding to food banks quickly," she said in an emailed comment.

Feeding America was among groups that welcomed the $2 trillion stimulus package agreed by the U.S. Senate for giving an allocation for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which distributes food to the needy through emergency providers.

Along with the nonprofit WhyHunger, it called for an extension to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, which is implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

WhyHunger's executive director Noreen Springstead, told Newsweek that the SNAP program was an important tool in staving off increased levels of hunger.

"It needs to be amplified because that is a way to give people the dignity of purchasing their own food and stimulating local economies," she said.

People can donate to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank via its website.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.


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