Coronavirus, Local, News

For Some Atlantans, Food Insecurity Grows During Pandemic

LaTonya Gates opened up a local food pantry to help with food insecurity in Atlanta communities.
LaTonya Gates opened up a local food pantry to help with food insecurity in Atlanta communities.
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Atlanta residents say that food insecurity has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And hotel workers in the city have especially taken a hit.

With canceled events and reduced travel, workers have either had hours reduced or lost their jobs.

LaTonya Gates heads the organization PAWKids, an education program for families on the westside of Atlanta. She’s also opened a food pantry called Claudia’s House in the Grove Park neighborhood.

She said many in this area worked in hotels. She also says the area already had a dearth of places to buy groceries and other items. That increased once the pandemic began.

“So many of the local parents worked for hotels around here,” said Gates. She also said a majority of those who use her services are unemployed. A place where people can get food and other essential items is Family Dollar, according to Gates. But she said at the beginning of the pandemic that was even difficult.

“So the first three weeks I’m like this is unheard of. I went into the store myself. There was no formula, no diapers, no wet wipes. I’m like how are people gonna get these things?”

Claudia’s House will allow families to come once a week to get food and hygiene items.

“Another thing we provide is hot meals,” Gates said. “Some people don’t have a place to cook. A lot of our families stay in rooming houses,” she said.

Thousands of hotel workers in the city have either lost their jobs or have been furloughed. The Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt, and Hilton are all hotels that have reported layoffs.