George Mitchell holds up a megaphone to amplify his words to the crowd waiting for boxes of free food. “If you can’t use it, don’t take it,” Mr. Mitchell says. Donations are gratefully accepted, but “if you don’t want to pay, that’s OK.”

The lines for this twice-weekly event in Baltimore have grown significantly longer since the coronavirus shuttered major segments of the economy and sidelined millions of workers.

On this recent Friday, one of the people lined up outside the red-brick former school is Cassandra Branch, who lost her job as a security worker at M&T Bank Stadium. Another is Elizabeth Rice, an aspiring young educator whose school employment dried up.

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