Alameda Food Bank sees 10x demand amid COVID-19 crisis

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- It's the disaster inside the pandemic, the economic fallout from the disease and the shelter-in-place orders that have come with it. At the Alameda Food Bank, the number of clients showing up for free food giveaways has multiplied by ten times in recent weeks.

On Wednesday morning, the line of cars extended at least a mile waiting their turn to get a box of food from the Alameda Food Bank, many of those inside these cars never imagined they'd be here.

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Russell Cowenhoven and Ana Hernandez both work in the hospitality industry, which means they've both been out of work for weeks.

"It's definitely a humbling experience," said Cowenhoven. "We're not alone. We've never had to be in a situation like this, but there's a lot of people in the hospitality industry, the airlines. You name it."

Pre-pandemic, the Alameda Food Bank served about 50-60 families at each giveaway, but now, the numbers are staggering, serving as many as 600 families in a single day.

"Our number have increased dramatically," said Cindy Houts, Executive Director of the Alameda Food Bank. "Pre-covid, we would serve 800 families a month at our pantry and we're now serving 2,000 a week. We are now seeing dental hygienists, real estate agents, all sorts of small business owners that all of a sudden, they just have no income."

Despite the huge jump in demand, the Alameda Food Bank has been able to keep up, for the the most part, thanks to cash donations.

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Houts told us she hasn't seen lines like this since 2008 and she worries, more so this time, that many of these new clients, will become permanent ones.

"I'm going to have to look into getting into a different industry because I think it's going to be completely decimated for several, several months," said Cowenhoven.

"There's no light switch, everyone has to be on board," said Ana Hernandez. "We're suffering because of the industry we're in, but we're all in this together."

For more information about the Alameda Food Bank, or to make a donation, go here.

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