The economic recovery has stalled, and in some cases, reversed. The $600 unemployment benefits that Americans received following the virus pandemic that crashed the economy in March-April expired on July 31, which means a fiscal cliff has been underway for 44 days (as of Sept. 14).
Millions of people are still out of work, their emergency savings wiped out, and insurmountable debts are increasing. As former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen warned in August, Congress’ inability to pass another round of stimulus checks could weigh on the economic recovery.
Readers may recall about a quarter of all personal income is derived from the government – so when a lapse in stimulus checks extends for well over one month – that could lead to new consumer stress.
In Richmond, Virginia, about 125 miles south of Washington, D.C., a food bank has been shelling out more than one million meals per month as the metro area battles deep economic scarring sustained by the virus-induced recession.
Kim Hill, the Chesterfield Food Bank CEO, told ABC 8News, “a lot of Chesterfield residents are showing up to get food would be an understatement — they’ve been averaging over a million meals a month.”
“You roll down that window, and you see the tears in that person’s eyes who never thought they would need the help of a food bank,” Hill said. “It breaks your heart.”
She said the volume of people her food bank is feeding is more than triple the levels versus last year. With increased demand, Hill said more volunteers are needed to handle the greater volumes.
“The life at the food bank here, we think it has changed forever,” Hill said. “Hunger should not exist in our country. We are one of the richest countries in the world, we need to be able to take care of our own people.”
She said the “Spanish-speaking population accounts for nearly half of all donations from their distribution sites.”
ABC 8News published a drone video outside the food bank on Friday (Sept. 11), revealing a massive line of cars of hungry people waiting to pick up food.
A ground-based video of the traffic jam of cars went viral over the weekend, recording, so far, nearly 1.8 million views.
The line on Route 10 for the Chesterfield food bank is currently a double wide line that stretches nearly half of a mile pic.twitter.com/785yt75KT7
— Brandon Jarvis (@Jaaavis) September 11, 2020
We recently noted low-income households had experienced the most financial hardships, which makes sense when Hill said many of the food donations are distributed to the “Spanish-speaking population.”
For some context here, food banks are slated to become the norm for the working poor. The pandemic has exposed the government’s intent to bail out corporate America while providing very little assistance to everyone else. Whatever the assistance the government did provide was a taste of socialism for many. Wealth inequality has been supercharged in 2020, food banks will continue to see elevated demand as the recovery could take a couple of years to return to 2019 activity levels.