Many people are hungry and pandemic poverty has taken hunger to places — and people — it hasn’t gone before. Richard Swerdlow has this Perspective.
When shelter-in-place was declared, gyms closed. To stay fit, I started taking long walks around San Francisco. The walks are beautiful and I always discover something interesting.
But not everything I discover is beautiful. Recently on a walk, I passed a long line, stretching around a closed school building, block after block of people waiting. Those waiting didn't seem to fit any mold. They were old and young, Black, white, Latino, Asian. There were tattooed hipsters, moms with tired fussy children, pale exhausted elderly people on folding chairs. All of them waiting, masked and silent, on tape markers 6 feet apart.
When my walk took me past the beginning of the line, I saw what they were waiting for: a food bank distribution, crates of produce and packaged foods set up on the school yard.
With COVID-19 causing the worst unemployment since the depression, I've been hearing a grim new term in the news: Pandemic poverty. But it's one thing to hear it, and another to see it. As I continued on my walk, I found myself haunted by the faces of those in line, how — no matter how different — all seemed to wear the same expression of quiet humiliation, reminding me of faces I've seen in photos of bread lines in the 1930s.