NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A growing number of families in the Tri-State Area are relying on food banks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some are experiencing food insecurity for the first time, but, as CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports, there are ways you can help.

Erielkina Pizarro, a single mom from the Bronx, now relies on food banks for herself and her three young sons, who all have special needs.

“I tell them… ‘If Mommy is not working, Mommy cannot can’t bring food to the table,'” Pizarro said.

In May, Pizarro’s grandfather died from COVID-19. He was also her babysitter.

Pizarro couldn’t afford to hire a sitter and had to quit her job as a home health aide.

MORE: 1,000 Boxes Of Food Delivered To New Jersey Food Pantry As State Sees Spike In Food Insecurity

Half of parents in New York City report skipping or skimping on meals during the pandemic.

There’s a similar epidemic in Westchester county.

“Since March, we have been feeding, on average, twice as many people every single month, and these are people that have never had to access a food bank before,” said Judy Campisi, of Feeding Westchester. “We’re doing over 2 million pounds a month… the highest months we’ve had in the past were a million.”

MORE: Island Harvest Food Bank Asking For Help In Combating Food Crisis In Local Communities Caused By COVID-19 Pandemic

A weeklong food drive launched outside Stop & Shop stores in the county.

“Non-perishable items, things that are in cans or boxes. Some of the items that we have on display out here are what Feeding Westchester is looking for. All of those regular, Thanksgiving fixins’ along with the regular, everyday staples are what people need,” said Maura O’Brien, communications manager for Stop & Shop.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Island Harvest Food Bank says it’s helped more than 200,000 families on Long Island since March.

On Friday, volunteers packed masks and sanitizer to include with food distributions.

“They need more contributions. They need more financial support. They need more volunteers because there are still people in need as this pandemic unfolds. People still have lost their jobs,” said New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

MORE: Long Island Teens Organize Food Pantry To Feed East End Families Struggling During Pandemic

The food banks are providing the most basic of human needs for those who are in desperate need of help.

“My son’s birthday is this week… I can’t even buy him a birthday cake,” Pizarro said.

Pizarro said she has $45 left to her name.

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