DeKalb’s 18-ton food prize flooded as hundreds of cars lined up | Instant News


The line for drive-thru feeding in DeKalb County stretches for more than half a mile and through several parking lots on Friday, a dull reminder of the widespread need for food during the coronavirus pandemic.

The district provides a total of 18 tons of food at sites in Clarkston and the Panthersville region in southern DeKalb. Six hundreds boxes of fruit and vegetables and 600 bags of frozen chicken weighing 10 pounds were distributed at each location.

At the James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and other regional officials personally loaded several cars. Thurmond said 500 cars had queued an hour and a half before the event began.

“I was able to feed my family thanks to DeKalb County,” said Sheryl Heard, 63, who was waiting in line for Friday’s food at the Clarkston giveaway. “The food means we will be able to eat many days, like a full week, without problems.”

In addition to the cars that stretched on Memorial College Avenue and N. Indian Creek Drive, dozens of people walked to the stadium and lined up to receive food.

Thurmond said it was “heartbreaking” to see the many needs in the giveaway. He becomes emotional thinking about family cars that must be rejected after the lunch box runs out.

“I don’t know what I will say to people who are outside the queue,” he said. “It is very painful.”

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Before the pandemic, more than 130,000 DeKalb County residents – about 18% of the population – were “food insecure,” according to the latest estimate from Feeding America, a national non-profit with a network of more than 200 food banks. Food insecurity is a technical term used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which refers to households that do not always have adequate access to healthy food.

READ MORE: As a pandemic persists, concern grows that more families are forced to starve

More than 14% of DeKalb’s population lives in poverty, according to the latest US Census Bureau estimates. The national poverty threshold for families with two adults and two children is around $ 26,000.

Since coronavirus struck, the Atlanta Community Food Bank said it had seen a 30 to 40% increase in the number of people now getting food from food drives and other emergency sources, compared to mid-March.

Much of that demand is related to the recent surge in unemployment. Dante Smith, 41, who attended the Clarkston giveaway, usually travels for tile work. He hasn’t been able to do that since the pandemic began. Smith said that he was not surprised by the long line of cars.

“I live around here. This community needs it, “said Smith, 41.” I know the people here appreciate it. I know I do. “

DeKalb officials said the food distribution site was in a county section that had seen high levels of COVID-19 and had more economically disadvantaged residents.

The district spends $ 40,000 to buy food from South Georgia farmers. The agricultural industry had been affected by the pandemic when schools and restaurants closed suddenly in March, depriving several farmers of many of their regular customers. The district works with Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black’s office to support the farmers while helping the DeKalb family.

“We have to bridge the gap … between the city of Atlanta and the countryside, South Georgia,” Thurmond said.

Groups that are at the forefront of food aid efforts are worried about sustaining increased needs in the long run. Thurmond said the county would spend about $ 3 million of the $ 125 million the county received in federal coronavirus assistance to tackle food insecurity. He suggested a similar distribution event could be held every month.