Food banks across the country are reporting a dramatic increase in people needing help. Many organizations are reporting the number of people they're providing food and services for have quadrupled, a continued effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Prior to COVID, we had about 85 families that would come to our client choice pantry. And now since COVID, we’re averaging about 385 a week so it's been a huge influx of new clients," says Jacob Granados, the director of purposeful engagement for the Place of Forsyth County in Georgia.
Some of their clients have never had to rely on help from food banks or non-profits before. Granados says the need since the start of the pandemic has not died down.
"I think it's important for people to understand that they are not alone," says Granados.
Danah Craft, the executive director of the Georgia Food Bank Association shared a heat map, showing the increase in food insecurity in 2020 compared to 2019. Some areas of Georgia that rely heavily on tourism have seen their food insecurity rates double.
"We believe that we will be at sustained elevated levels for 12 to 18 months. We are here for the long haul. We are part of these communities and we are here to respond but what we don't know is what will happen this winter. We don't know how long we’ll need to sustain this response," says Craft.
In California, Community Services and Employment Training, or C-SET, provides groceries and meals to families. C-SET used to deliver 300 meals monthly to seniors. That number is now up to 1,400.
"Then for rental assistance typically I would see maybe 150 applicants for emergency food and shelter services. We are probably close to 900," says CSET's Director of Community Initiatives, Raquel Gomez Collins.
C-SET has joined with their local health and human services agency as well as other non-profits in their area to provide as many services as possible to residents who need it. Gomez Collins says sometimes it's not just about having the funding to buy the food but identifying where and how to get it.
"We are competing with larger cities for that food so it's being in line and ready to go when they give us a call and say, ‘Hey, we have four pallets of food and you can pick it up.’ It's having the access to trucks, it's having the access to manpower. All those things come into play now because of the competition for those resources," says Gomez Collins.
Many organizations are thankful for all of the generous donations they receive and are now preparing for the upcoming winter.
"We are not planning for our numbers to drop anytime real soon. We are making preparations even now for Thanksgiving to get 500 Thanksgiving meal boxes ready. We anticipate that this need will be here," says Granados.