Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, told CNBC that his Texas food bank now feeds double the amount of people it used to compared to before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the United States.
"Pre-pandemic we fed about 60,00 people a week and now we're seeing about 120,000 per week, and most of those are new to the food bank, and have never had to ask for help before," Cooper said during a Tuesday evening interview on "The News with Shepard Smith."
Cooper's food bank serves eight semi-truck loads of food per day to people in need. The numbers are so high, they have to ration food. Organizers at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank say that one in four people can't meet their basic food needs. That's the highest since the Great Depression.
According to Feeding America, 54 million people in the United States don't have access to sufficient food. That's approximately 13 million more than last year and more than the combined populations of Texas and Florida.
"Today we had a distribution that fed 2,000, and we have these distributions all the time," Cooper said. "Food banks around the country have seen this unprecedented demand, and we're just working as hard as we can to balance the private donations we get, with the public assistance to try to make sure people are fed."
In the South, the positivity rate is at 11% and the region accounts for about one-third of all coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations nationwide, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. On Tuesday, Texas reported an all-time high with nearly 14,000 new cases. Cooper told host Shepard Smith that distance learning has been putting extra stress on parents when it comes to providing food for their kids.
"A child would miss 10 meals in a week, and if a mom has two to three kids in school, she's now feeling the impact of the cost of that food at home, and without employment, kids are going hungry," Cooper explained. "We're hearing from schools that kids are struggling with their education, because they don't have access to good nutrition."
As food insecurity rises, federal funding has been critical with the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provided $850 million to food banks this year. Cooper said that he hopes Congress acts swiftly to support families to get them out of lines for food banks and into grocery stores.
"We just hope that Congress acts quickly, the stimulus package needs to support families to put food on their table," Cooper said.
Cooper said that if someone wanted to help, they should visit FeedingAmerica.org, find their local food bank, and get involved through donating food, volunteering or making a financial contribution.