As San Diego enters the eighth month of the coronavirus epidemic, many residents are still struggling to afford basic needs.
Many who lost jobs as a direct result of the pandemic have yet to recover, and hunger and food insecurity remain constants as a result. Romina Barros never thought she would find herself relying on the services of a food bank.
Barros' husband was working as a caregiver for a local family when the pandemic hit.
“The family [my husband was working for] lost their jobs, so they had to fire him after five years working there,” Barros said.
Barros' husband was the family's sole provider, with her staying home to care for their 2- and 3-year-old kids. But at the end of March, he found himself without a job and hasn't been able to find work since. All the while, the rent payments, car payments and utility bills keep coming.
“We are very short with the rent -- we still need to pay part of the rent,” Barros said.
Barros and her family are among the thousands of people who find themselves turning to food banks during this time of uncertainty.
“This is unprecedented, uncharted time for all of us,” said James Floros, president and CEO of the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank. “We’re having to purchase more food to meet the demand. In a typical year we’ll spend about a million dollars in food purchases. We just hit $8 million in food purchases just since the middle of March.”
The Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank has 200 distribution sites and 500 nonprofit partners across the county. The Jewish Family Service of San Diego, which is one of them, distributes food three times a week. Officials there say at least 200 families drive up every time.
“I think it's very nice what they do for us and all these families that lost their job to COVID,” Barros said. “It is very good help for everybody.”
Even if the pandemic were to come to an end in the near future , those who operate the food banks said they expect the economic impact to last for years.