Feeding Westchester CEO Karen Erren said the food bank’s numbers skyrocketed early in the pandemic, nearly tripling in May 2020, and still dwarf pre-COVID rates.
Photo by Tania Savayan
It’s a line they never thought they’d need to join. But here they are.
Some are here for the first time. When they reach the front of the line, they pull hats down over eyes hidden by sunglasses and look away from the help they’re here for.
Others have been here so often, they’ve grown friendships in this line, nursed small grudges in this line.
This is the line between eating and not eating.
And they’ve got to eat.
Hunger was here long before COVID, and it will remain here long after vaccines make the coronavirus a bad memory, experts say. It will be in cities and states across America: The Hudson Valley and pockets of New York from the Southern Tier to Syracuse to Rochester are no exception.
As one food banker puts it: “There’s no vaccine for hunger.”
Hunger will persist in Westchester County, which this year had eight communities ranked on Bloomberg News’ 200 richest places in the U.S., the most of any county in the country.
Westchester is home to Fortune 500 executives, to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and MasterCard, IBM and Pepsico. But it, too, is also a place where the coronavirus took food off the tables of families who had never known that feeling before.
By one estimate, at the height of the crisis, one in five Westchester residents did not have enough to eat.
And if it can happen in Westchester, it can happen anywhere.
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