Coronavirus News: NYC food banks struggle to stay stocked amid COVID-19 crisis

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- In tough times, many people turn to food banks to help feed their families. But in very rough times, even food banks have trouble staying stocked.

The coronavirus pandemic comes at a time when they're more needed then ever, as the rush on grocery stores at the outset of the outbreak was like nothing most of us have ever seen.

Lines wrapped around the block and shelves were emptied of necessities.

But not every New Yorker has the luxury of buying at will and stocking up on weeks worth of supplies, and millions in the city depend on local food pantries.

"32% of pantries in New York City have shut down," Met Council CEO David Greenfield said. "Within 10 days, most food pantries will shut down. They simply cannot afford to keep up."

The Met Council overseas a network of more than 180 full and part-time food pantries, and Greenfield says the rising cost of food and rising unemployment are big factors in the growing need for help.

Leslie Gordon, the head of Food Bank for New York City, the leading hunger relief non-profit in the five boroughs, says its partners are reporting a 50% increase in the number of people showing up for assistance.

And in those places where pantries have disappeared, they're picking up the slack.

But the non-profits can't do it alone. On Tuesday, a group of faith leaders from across the city appealed to the state for $25 million in emergency funds to help.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson made a similar appeal to the city last week.

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