With millions of Americans left unemployed in the Covid-19 pandemic, food banks and charities from New York to Los Angeles have distributed free turkeys and other products to help those in need enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this year.
The American holiday, which this year falls on November 26, is traditionally a time for celebration and celebration with the family. But more than ever this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many will struggle to put food on the table.
At a New York City food bank on Monday, dozens of people lined up to get a free turkey and other traditional Thanksgiving meals.
“As we know, Covid’s prices are rising in the city and so is the need,” Leslie Gordon, president of the New York City Food Bank, told Reuters.
“Even before the pandemic, there were 1.5 million residents here in the five neighborhoods who did not always know when their next meal was coming from or what it will be. And it escalated significantly to almost 2 million of our neighbors.”
For many, this is the first time they have to rely on charity for their Thanksgiving meal.
“It’s a little shocking and it’s sad. It’s sad. You do not think of yourself coming in a line … You do not think you will lose your job, but things will happen,” said Ruth Crawford when she asked up to collect a turkey.
“You have to try to relax and think about the better things, because it was not always like this.”
Across the country, food banks and charities have been pressured by rising demand since the pandemic.
In Los Angeles, the local YMCA has distributed Thanksgiving food baskets to school children and their families.
Although the system has been running for several years, the organizers say that demand has increased sharply this year.
Among those who lined up on Monday were school representatives, some of whom collected dozens of baskets to distribute directly to children at their schools.
“You know, it’s very difficult because all the children are in their homes and it’s harder for the families,” Patricia Saravia, who collected 25 food baskets for children at a local elementary school, told Reuters.
“And I think this, what they do, they do it every year, but this is more and more important because some people can not, you know, can not afford or can not have food on the table every day.”
U.S. unemployment was 6.9 percent, or 11.1 million people, in October. Even if the rate drops, it is still almost twice as high as the pre-pandemic level.