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Food banks see spike in need during Thanksgiving week as compared to last year

The Capital Area Food Bank projects food distribution to be 67% higher this month compared to November 2019.

LORTON, Va. — With the pandemic and economic downturn still providing plenty of financial hardship for people and families, food banks have seen the need for food skyrocket in November compared to the same time last year.

The Capital Area Food Bank, which works with over 450 local partners in the DMV, said that it projects food distribution to be 67% higher this month compared to November of last year.

On Tuesday, the need for food could be seen firsthand outside the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC). Lines of people formed near the entrance at times during the evening, with some arriving to pick up food for large families.

"The folks who are waiting in line out there are all from a variety of walks of life," said LCAC Executive Director Linda Patterson. "Some of the folks who have come to us for ongoing food assistance are folks who have never needed food before.” 

Patterson estimated that Thanksgiving food giveaways organized by LCAC had seen 20% more people this year compared to last year.

After being a part of LCAC for the last 18 years, Patterson said she noticed far more single adults showing up for food than ever before. 

She added that many first-time people coming out to the food giveaways worked in the hospitality industry or did gig work, like driving for Uber or Lyft, before losing their jobs this year.

"Some of them own their own homes or have kids in college," Patterson said. "All of a sudden, their financial lives have been upended.” 

During Tuesday's giveaway, people in need could take home packets of bread, chicken, fish, Thanksgiving boxes, and other items.

Inside one trailer, stacks of new baby diapers waited to be given out to families with young ones.

While the need for food has greatly grown this year, Patterson said she continued to be impressed with the number of donations coming in from the community.

"I am amazed at how people respond and come forward with ways to help," she said.

With the pandemic still happening and the economy still facing an uncertain future, Patterson said the generosity of others would be key for helping families moving forward.

"We are nine months into this and folks haven’t forgotten," she said. "They know that the need is here. That brings me lots of hope.” 

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