United Food Bank prepares for surge of hungry Arizona families as $600 weekly unemployment benefits end

As Congress continues to debate another federal stimulus deal, the fallout from the end of expanded unemployment benefits is about to begin, according to the United Food Bank.

Since March, the lines have zig-zagged parking lots as record numbers rely on the United Food Bank for a meal.

"Don't struggle trying to get food," said Tyson Nansel, a representative for United Food Bank. "We have it, we're here for you -- take care of your family and pay off your bills."

Nansel says as the pandemic has stretched on, the demand has eased slightly at their Wednesday and Friday distribution from 10,000 families a week to 6,000 - both are still far above average.

Weekly $600 unemployment comes to an end: here's how it affects Arizona

FOX 10's Steve Nielsen speaks with a Valley family to see what the end of the weekly unemployment benefit could mean to the average Arizona family looking for a job.

However, as the weekly $600 unemployment checks come to an end, the clock is ticking for the food bank to prepare.

As Coongress debated what to do about unemployment benefits, next week's payout will drop to just $240 a week for several hundred thousand Arizonans - the second lowest payout in the country.

The United Food Bank says things might change in a hurry for families.

"We’re expecting that same surge we saw back in April when people were still unemployed, and now they’re not getting those benefits," said Nansel.

The expected surge in demand along with a significant drop in donations and an urgent demand for volunteers is proving to be a source of stress for the nonprofit.

Nansel says they won’t have the help of the National Guard in the weeks ahead.

"That was about 20 to 25 volunteers that are strong individuals, that don’t mind the heat, work outside - and we lost that help," Nansel explained.

Despite the circumstances, the United Food Bank says they’ll be there with fresh produce, fresh meat and dairy for your family every week.

"We are here and we are able to help," Nansel said.

Want to donate, volunteer or need help? Visit their website: https://unitedfoodbank.org

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