Food pantries remain in high demand with inflation, lingering effects from pandemic

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 11:56 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More than half a million Virginians aren’t getting the food they need, but several groups in our area are trying to change that.

That’s why September is Hunger Action Month for Feed More - an effort to put food on the table for those who need it.

“Everybody needs to eat. That’s basic you know,” said customer Ruby Williams.

Williams was in line early recently to load up her car with food. It’s not for her. She’s getting food for neighbors who can’t get out.

“You never know about people’s circumstances, you can’t pass judgment,” said Williams.

Every Friday, a line of cars wraps around the Belmont United Methodist Church waiting for food. This church has been running this pantry for more than two decades, even offering a free breakfast for the community.

The people here know how much this help is needed, especially with inflation and the pandemic.

“But as a result of the pandemic, it was heightened. The greater need, the lack of food as far as the supply chain, the lack of money, because of people who have lost jobs. Those kinds of things,” said Marie Coone, member of the church and volunteer.

The food donated to this pantry is from Feed More and other community organizations like Shallow Farms. It provides produce and canned goods.

The pantry changed to a drive-through service once COVID hit.

Experts estimate that the pandemic made the hunger problem even worse, adding another 150,000 people to the list of those who need help.

That’s why organizations like Feed More are so important.

“It takes a community to fight food insecurity and we got a wonderful amount of folks helping out every single day,” said David Waidelich, chief programs and collaborator at Feed More.

More than 200 volunteers work each day at Feed More helping to distribute food across 34 counties and cities in Virginia. By the end of this year, Feed More says it will have handed out nearly 34 million pounds of food.

”Last year we gave away 40 million pounds of food,” said Waidelich.

Feed More says it can always use help, whether it’s volunteering, donations or financial support. It’s all essential to help serve people lining up at food pantries.

“You can never have too much food, so more that people can donate and participate is better,” said Waidelich.