ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  With more than 70,000 New Mexicans filing for unemployment during the pandemic, New Mexico food banks are seeing a great surge in demand.

The Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico said it’s seen about a 40% increase in clients.

Since some of its partners were forced to close due to lack of volunteers, Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico has opened four new drive through distribution sites. At those sites combined, it serves up to 1,600 families per week. These sites are in addition to other distribution sites the food bank supports across 16 counties.

“We’ve had to get creative in how we run our operations, we’ve had to be creative in how we distribute food, and it’s meant that it’s changed sort of the food bank world in general,” said Sonya Warwick, with Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico.

The Food Depot in Santa Fe said at times, lines of cars of people needing food stretch a mile and a half long.

The state said one factor that may be helping New Mexico food banks is that early on in the pandemic, the state came up with a new operation to feed elderly, disabled adults and families at schools.

While already trying to meet demand, food banks are preparing for even more people to need them as the pandemic continues and more people may lose jobs or run out of savings.

“The longer this virus lingers on, that will mean a longer-term need for people who are struggling to access basic things like food,” said Warwick. “And in a state where we already have high poverty rates, that’s going to exacerbate the problem even further.”

Roadrunner is preparing to feed more families by finding new vendors to source food from, allocating more of its budget to purchasing food and finding more volunteers.