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In Waltham, A Once Monthly Food Pantry Is Now A Weekly Event — With Lines Around The Block05:52
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As job losses soar, so does the number of people unable to afford basic groceries. Around the country, lines of cars and people now wait hours for food assistance — a phenomenon usually associated with the Great Depression.

But food insecurity in the United States — and Massachusetts — existed well before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. By some estimates, 9% of people in the commonwealth faced food insecurity before COVID-19.

Now, as more than a million people — roughly a quarter of the state’s workforce --  have lost their jobs, demand on food pantries has sky-rocketed.

The line for food extends out of the parking lot and down Pond Street at a food pantry at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The line for food extends out of the parking lot and down Pond Street at a food pantry at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman picks up a prepared bag of food supplies. Hundreds of people and families lined up on foot and in their vehicles at St. Mary Parish in Waltham on a recent Thursday to receive food assistance. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman picks up a prepared bag of food supplies. Hundreds of people and families lined up on foot and in their vehicles at St. Mary Parish in Waltham on a recent Thursday to receive food assistance. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Prepared grocery bags at a food pantry at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. People seeking food assistance lined up on foot and in their vehicles for hours. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Prepared grocery bags at a food pantry at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. People seeking food assistance lined up on foot and in their vehicles for hours. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

To learn more, WBUR's Bob Oakes took a virtual tour of one the 500 or so food pantries in Eastern Massachusetts. The Watch City Market used to be a once-a-month event, held in the parking lot of St. Mary's Church in Waltham.

Now the food giveaway happens weekly — and the event's organizers say the increased demand stretches the limits of what they're able to provide.

Listen to the story atop the post or see more photos here:

Cars waiting in line for food assistance. On that day, nearly 3,000 bags of groceries were passed out to families in need. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Cars waiting in line for food assistance. On that day, nearly 3,000 bags of groceries were passed out to families in need. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A volunteer places bags of groceries into the back of a minivan. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A volunteer places bags of groceries into the back of a minivan. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This article was originally published on May 22, 2020.

This segment aired on May 22, 2020.

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