News and Events

Press Coverage - 08/12/20

San Jose Mercury News: How coronavirus created the Bay Area’s new mile-long breadlines

The line of cars stretches a mile through city streets. Windows are rolled up. Trunks are open. And with no questions asked, boxes and bags of free food are loaded in.

Through their windshields, drivers flash homemade “thank you” signs. The gratitude, the humility runs deep.

The coronavirus crisis has created the breadline of 2020, and in every vehicle, one after the other, is a story of despair.

“We’ve never been in a food line in our lives,” Gloria Reza, 54, who lost her job as a housekeeper at the Hilton Hotel in downtown San Jose, said Wednesday morning as she waited in line with her husband. “It’s a little embarrassing.”

Food lines are snaking through neighborhoods and causing traffic jams around the Bay Area and across the country. Even with shelter-in-place rules beginning to loosen, many laid off and furloughed workers fear they will remain destitute for months to come. These are the people who cater to crowds — likely the last to see full employment.

Over the past 10 weeks, demand for free food across the Bay Area has more than doubled, calls to food banks have increased a thousand-fold, and the number of those in need is only now peaking, food banks and charities say.