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Tackling Food Insecurity In Chicago Amid The Pandemic; 'We Definitely Need People To Give If They Can'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There is a  growing hunger problem caused by the pandemic.

In Texas, more than 6,000 cars lined up to receive Thanksgiving meals from a food bank in Dallas. CBS 2's Meredith Barack has been looking into whether lines like that will be in the Chicago area.

Organizations like Lakeview Pantry said they are using a number of different strategies to prevent a situation like that from happening in Chicago.

"This is the first time we're distributing in this neighborhood. We know a lot of people need to be able to come and drive up with all the food that we're going to be able to give them today," said Jennie Hull of the Lakeview Pantry.

A lot of people is an understatement. Last November, the Lakeview Pantry served 5,700 clients. This year, it will much more.

"This year we're on track to serve 11,000 people so we're really seeing a huge increase," said Hull.

It has forced the organization to get creative, relying on an online market, home delivery and pop-up distributions.

"Serving outside like this and being as fast and efficient as we can is the way to do it. Because we're seeing our numbers just skyrocket so we have to move fast," said Hull.

The pop-up distribution sites are not only a trend locally, but nationally. So how have Chicago nonprofits prevented scenes like the one in Texas keep from happening here?

Greg Trotter with the Greater Chicago Food Depository said it has seen long lines, but the organization has worked to strengthen the existing network of food pantries in Cook County, especially targeting communities disproportionately being affected by COVID-19 and food insecurity.

Add the approaching holidays, and donations and volunteers are needed more than ever before.

"We definitely need people to give if they can," Hull said. "We understand that some people can't, but we need people to give because the amount of food that we're bringing in, the amount of people that we have to serve, we need the money for that."

Hull said right now, the pantry is prepared for the giant wave of people who will need food for Thanksgiving, and they're thankful they'll be able to provide it.

"Every family is getting a turkey this month, and a turkey or a ham next month," Hull said. "So we're making sure that people can still have those family dinners and hold onto those traditions that they find so important especially in these times of need."

Local pantries are also relying heavily on technology. Many of them asking clients to set up times to come pick up their Thanksgiving meals to prevent a rush of hundreds or thousands of people at one time.

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