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Survey finds food insecurity among mothers with children up 200 percent amid COVID-19 crisis

The Houston Food Bank is holding more large-scale food giveaways in order to serve more families.

HOUSTON — A traffic jam Friday morning outside Chavez High School wasn't on a freeway.

It was at a food giveaway. And that's become the daily commute for many in these unprecedented times.

"Doing the best I can with the little I got,” said Jimmy Reyna of Houston.

Reyna was laid off from his electrical apprentice job and doesn’t know how he’d eat otherwise.

“I’ve got family behind me that are coming up here too," Reyna said.  "Cousins and sisters and stuff, we’re all in a rut right now, it’s hard.”

RELATED: Houston Food Bank, HISD holding mass food distribution at NRG Saturday

RELATED: Thousands turn up for free food giveaway at NRG Stadium

The giveaway at Chavez was one of more than 25 this week organized by HISD and the Houston Food Bank, which has seen skyrocketing demand all over the area.

"The average day now for us is, literally, a million pounds of distribution for all the different partners that we’re working with,” said Houston Food Bank CEO Brian Greene.

Families with children have always been among the most in need. Many have been doubly impacted by job losses and the loss of school meals.

The statistics are particularly staggering among single mothers with kids under 12.

According to a new survey by the Hamilton Project, food insecurity has increased more than 200 percent amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"This gives us a lot of help,” said Lucina Zarate, a mother of 3.

She was among those in line at Chavez waiting to receive a bag of non-perishables and a little fresh fruit.

"God is touching a lot of hearts of the people who are able to help,” Zarate said.

The food bank is helping even larger crowds through so-called “super site” distributions.

Each one of those has a goal of serving 3,500 vehicles per week.

"When we can serve thousands of families at one time, it’s not the most personal way to help people," Greene said. "But at least we can help more people at a time that way.”

The need from people like Reyna likely won't diminish anytime soon.

"This really helps a lot,” Reyna said.

For more information on Houston Food Bank's COVID-19 resources, click here.

For more information on HISD distribution sites this weekend and next week, click here.

For more on the the Hamilton Project survey, click here.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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