Hundreds line up outside Maryland Megamarts for free grocery giveaway; ignore social distance rules

Hundreds of people lined up Friday outside of several MegaMart locations in Maryland for a free food giveaway. 

SkyFOX was over the scene where police say at least 400 people showed up at the Takoma Park location. Many were seen ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Police were on the scene to assist supermarket staff with the distribution of donated food, according to officials. 

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The owner of the store, Yoni Lopez, tells FOX 5 he decided to announce a free food giveaway because his community desperately needs the help. He said he contacted the police ahead of time.

But in the end, the crowds were just so much larger than anyone expected in locations in Takoma Park, Rockville and in Adelphi.

At one point, Lopez says they stopped giving out baskets of food and started giving out $35 coupons instead, that way people could leave and come back later.

It did help the situation, but obviously when you’ve got that many people in one area, it is really hard to stay six-feet apart.

Now let’s talk about the other part of this – the people who chose to stand in line. A lot of people FOX 5's Josh Rosenthal spoke with say they are legitimately worried about going hungry.

One woman who said she’s a cashier, says she hasn’t worked in weeks, and she’s still gotta pay her rent -- and she’s gotta put food on the table too.

 “I don’t want to come out because I worry. I take care of my life. I take care of my son, that’s why my son, he’s not with me... but I need food, so that’s why I'm here because now I think everybody needs help," said Anarel Mejia.

A flier said that the giveaway would be held at four different locations in Montgomery and Prince George's counties on Friday evening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

FOX 5 contacted Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's office to see if there were plans to shut down the operation due to the lack of social distancing. 

A representative for his office said that it would be handled by the local health department and local law enforcement, per his order to delegate enforcement to local officials. 

This is a developing story. 

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