CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of people facing financial hardships lined up Thursday at a Chicago church that has been giving away boxes of food.
The effort at Saint Sabina Church on the city's South Side comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the South Side neighborhood surrounding the church and other communities of color.
"I can't go nowhere," said Chicago resident Christine Davis."I'm 85. They say senior citizens should stay in."
Those in need lined up for blocks for the noon distribution along West 78th Place. Roughly 500 food boxes, packed with meat, vegetables and fresh fruit, were given away.
The food was donated by a local company.
Phillip Hunter volunteered with his son.
"There are a lot of families out there that are one paycheck away from needing this food, just to have something to eat for the day," Hunter said.
Organizers said a lot of people are jobless because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the latest data, the Illinois Department of Employment Security puts unemployment in Chicago at 17% in May, up 13.3% from the same time last year.
Statewide, unemployment is at 14.7%, up 11% from the same time last year.
Father Michael Pfleger said unemployment is much higher in Black and brown communities. The church's service center has been overwhelmed.
"We went from originally giving out to 300 people a week, now we're over 900 a week," Father Pfleger said. "We've got five senior buildings in the area and so many people are desperate for food."
The church welcomed people to drive up in their cars, but many were also able to walk up to receive their packages.
The Saint Sabina community said they will continue to give away food every Thursday at noon for as long as they possibly can.