Thousands more seek food from Greater Cleveland Food Bank's Tuesday drive-through giveaway03/25/20
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Traffic was again backed up for miles Tuesday outside the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s East Side headquarters, as the organization, aided by members of the Ohio National Guard, conducted its second drive-through food giveaway within two weeks.
At day’s end, the food bank had served an estimated 4,000 people. Others had to be turned away once by police officers conducting traffic control. Two-thirds of those individuals ad never sought assistance from the food bank before, CEO Kristin Warzocha said.
The food bank was prepared to hand out more than 1,500 boxes of non-perishable food, or roughly a week’s worth of groceries.
Warzocha said the food bank is considering switching from monthly to weekly giveaways in response to the need generated by the coronavirus and attempts to slow the spread of the disease by closing non-essential businesses.
Lines of traffic were backed up blocks south, east and west of the headquarters near Waterloo Road and East 152nd Street as families, the elderly, and individuals waited for groceries. As with last week’s giveaway, some people told cleveland.com they waited two hours before receiving food.
One woman, who had never sought food from the food bank before, told cleveland.com she lost her job providing transportation for disabled children, and was unable to file for unemployment through the state’s website. She turned to the food bank because she was uncertain of her financial future .
Dozens of others walked up to the food bank on foot. Some people had taken buses, and others feared their cars would run out of gas if they remained in line, Warzocha said.
One man on foot told cleveland.com he’d never sought help from the food bank before, but he wanted to stock up on food after losing his shipping and receiving job.
Another man, who took the bus to reach the event, said he’d never sought the food bank’s help before. He worked at a local bowling alley and doesn’t know when he’ll be allowed back at work. The man was told his first unemployment check would take three to six weeks to reach him, so he wanted to ensure he had food in the interim.
None wanted to share their names.
Last week, people waited in line until the food ran out. A total of 107,000 pounds of food was given away at that event.
On Tuesday, a food bank spokeswoman said the giveaway would continue until food ran out, or until Cleveland police, who were directing traffic into the event, capped off the lines and declined to let anyone more cars in.
Food bank volunteers were aided for the first time by members of the Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve, along with U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, a Bainbridge Township Republican.
Joyce, who faces a primary challenge from Navy veteran Mike Pitrone of Stow, thanked the military members and volunteers, and said their on-the-ground efforts to fight fallout from the coronavirus were more swift than anything Washington D.C. has accomplished.
“We’re all in this together.” Joyce said. “America will make it through to the other side of this.”
A spokeswoman said the food bank is trying its best to serve as many people as possible. Anyone still in need of assistance should contact their help center to find a nearby community pantry or other resources. The help center can be reached at 216-738-2067.
The full article can be found online here.