BETHESDA, Md. — How serious is America's hunger crisis?
On a recent Friday in Bethesda, in one of the wealthiest zip codes in America, hundreds waited for hours in line for food.
"One thing we were stunned with when we opened up was just how much the need was," said John F. Ross, an author turned food distribution site coordinator.
Ross helped create Nourishing Bethesda, a coalition of organizations committed to fighting hunger in their community. They're out on most Fridays handing out food.
"COVID is kind of an equal opportunity job slayer," Ross said, acknowledging the fact there were Mercedes and Lexus vehicles in line waiting in line for help.
Ross stresses to his volunteers to have no judgment on what kind of car pulls up for help.
On this day, Bill, is one of the first in line food.
"I've been out of work for a while so I’m pretty damn desperate," Bill said.
He didn’t always like coming, but he swallowed his pride because he needed to feed his kids.
"I’d rather be working for my food, but I am surviving," Bill said.
STIMULUS BILL FIGHTS HUNGER CRISIS
While $1,400 stimulus checks may get all the attention, the stimulus legislation also addresses the growing hunger crisis in America.
An estimated one in four children struggles to find regular meals.
Not only do food stamp benefits get a 15% boost, but it also offers a child tax credit so parents like Bill can get food on the table.
EXPANDED CHILD TAX CREDIT
Under the legislation, parents making under $150,000 a year will qualify for expanded relief.
$3,000 will be made available to parents for children between the ages of 6 and 17, and $3,600 will be made available to parents for children under 6.
The most consequential change, however, may be the fact that half of the amount that parents will be eligible for will be dispersed in monthly installments starting in July.
Payments will be around $300 a month for many parents starting in July, meant to help put real food on the table.
"I could easily survive and not have to do this with $200 a month," Bill said.
NOT PERMANENT THOUGH
The help for millions is only guaranteed through this year. However, although lawmakers on Capitol Hill are beginning to discuss a path forward to make the change permanent.
Meanwhile, back at the food distribution site, Ross and his crew don't plan on stopping any time soon. The need is too great.
"We run out of food and have to turn people away sometimes and that is just really sad," Ross said.