A food bank in Texas distributed 450 tonnes of food to 6000 families in a single day as millions across the country turn to charity organisations to avoid going hungry amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Shocking photos show thousands of cars lined up at San Antonio's Trader's Plaza during the huge food distribution event on Thursday (US time).

Families waited hours to get vegetables, fresh fruit and other non-perishable goods that have become hard to find as panic-buying leaves shelves empty in stores.

People wait in their cars at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. Photo / AP
People wait in their cars at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. Photo / AP

"The need is that great," San Antonio Food Bank President and CEO Eric Cooper said of the huge turnout.

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"We are moving through food so fast, this is our second big distribution this week, but there are hundreds of distributions that are going on all the time."

People wait at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. Photo / AP
People wait at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. Photo / AP
Michael Martinez loads a box of fennel into a car as people gather at Traders Village to get food from the San Antonio Food Bank. Photo / AP
Michael Martinez loads a box of fennel into a car as people gather at Traders Village to get food from the San Antonio Food Bank. Photo / AP
The San Antonio Food Bank. Photo / AP
The San Antonio Food Bank. Photo / AP

The event dubbed "Mega Giveaway" will be held twice a week for as long as stay-at-home orders are in place in the city, available to people who pre-register online.

Thursday marked the fourth time they held the event - and the largest turnout yet.

Michael Guerra, the food bank's chief resources officer, said 5000 families signed up for the latest event, but even more showed up.

Heather Martinez bids farewell after handing over two gallons of milk as thousands of people in cars - some waiting since late Wednesday afternoon - gathered at Traders Village. Photo / AP
Heather Martinez bids farewell after handing over two gallons of milk as thousands of people in cars - some waiting since late Wednesday afternoon - gathered at Traders Village. Photo / AP

Guerra said he expected each family to leave with enough food to last for the rest of the month - around two grocery carts full.

Pete Delgado was among the thousands of people waiting in line on Thursday.

He told FOX San Antonio he and his wife are both disabled and that he arrived at Trader's Plaza in the middle of the night to ensure that his family wouldn't go hungry.

"I've been here for an easy 12 hours," Delgado said.

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Birdsong, blaring sirens: A pandemic in sound. Video / AP
People wait in their cars at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. Photo / AP
People wait in their cars at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. Photo / AP

"We didn't have any bread or lunch meat or anything to make some kind of lunch, a picnic for me to stay overnight, so I've just been munching on peanut butter and jelly and crackers."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website