There are signs the surging coronavirus pandemic is pushing more even people out of work. In the last week, 853,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits — the third increase in the last four weeks. It comes as critical aid programs are about to expire, with millions of families struggling to survive.
Claudia Guillen took her son Jose Landaverde to get groceries — not to a supermarket, but a food bank in east Boston. Jose came out with three bags of charity to feed the family of six.
“The food that is donated goes a long way for … to make sure that we don’t starve,” his sister, Kimberly Landaverde, told CBS News.
Kimberly is 17 and stressed. She is a high school senior applying to college as her family’s world collapses around them. Both her parents lost jobs during the pandemic. Her immigrant family, two months behind on rent, faces eviction.
“It’s very scary to think that we could lose a place where we found so much comfort,” Kimberly said. “I think that even I don’t know how I am. I am constantly worrying, so I try to put on a brave face and get through the day.”
Kimberly finally got good news this week: acceptances from three colleges, with significant scholarships.
“I cried a lot,” she said. “It’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s been something that has given me hope despite everything.”
And yet Kimberly’s still torn. Should she chase her college dream, or work full-time to make money for her family? She agonizes over the stress she sees in her parents, like millions of kids in struggling families.
Jose, Kimberly’s 16-year-old brother, works part-time at the same food bank that feeds his family.
“You can see the desperation on people’s faces,” Jose said. “They always respond saying, ‘Oh, God bless you.'”
Feeding America projects more than 50 million Americans will have faced hunger in 2020 – up from around 35 million before the coronavirus pandemic. That translates to 1 in 6 people, including 1 in 4 children, experiencing food insecurity this year.
Jose also worries whether he and his family will continue to have a roof over their heads.
“What are we gonna do if we get kicked out of our house?” he asked. “Where are we gonna go?”