Across the nation, families are struggling to put food on the table as more and more people lose their jobs because of COVID-19.
Unemployment numbers keep growing and our local food pantries say they are feeling the weight.
“Out in Wolf Creek yesterday, we typically serve between 60-80, I believe we served 140,” said Kim Collins, the Executive Director of the Josephine County Food Bank, “we were prepared for an increase but if three more people would have shown up someone would have went home without a box.”
The Josephine County Food Bank says they are still accepting food donations, although almost all food donations have stopped.
“I’m not sure if that’s because people think we’re no longer excepting food donations, because we are,” said Collins.
Food donations aren’t all the Food Bank relies on they prefer to receive monetary donations but they are seeing a decrease in those donations as well.
“We would prefer monetary donations because the amount of food we can buy with $1.00 is so much more significant, compared to someone buying something off the shelf,” said Collins, “We’ve had to hire extra staff to meet the demand. The amount of food purchased last month has more than doubled and then we’re also having to buy supplies like the bleach and the boxes to serve everybody.”
Klamath/Lake County Food Bank and Access in Jackson County are discouraging food donations at this time but are asking the community for monetary donations as they are also seeing an increase in community need.
“We have seen a huge increase,” said Niki Sampson, the Klamath/Lake County Food Bank Director, “the new people that are looking for help are people that have lost their jobs temporarily and that could mean three to six months, if this thing continues.”
“We’ve been seeing an overwhelmingly increased number of individuals needing food assistance,” said Chris Bosse, the Food Bank Supervisor for Access, “I would say the numbers are going up every week. This past week compared to the month before, we’ve seen a 30% increase and it’s getting busier every day that we’re open to distribute boxes.”
“I’ve taken about 1,500 calls in the last three weeks,” said Sampson, “a good 75% of those calls are people saying ‘Hey, how can we get help.'”
A large group of people looking for food assistance have never been to a Food Bank before now.
“When they arrive, they have such dismay on their face and their comments to me on the phone and in person are, ‘we both lost our jobs yesterday and we’ve never done this before, we don’t know how this works, can you help us,” said Collins.
There is a concern that families who need assistance won’t seek out help because of the stigma that surrounds food banks and food assistance.
“Some of the people, when they call, their question to me is, ‘Do I have to show my ID?’, because they really don’t want to put their name out there,” said Collins, “it is a concern for people being exposed.
The Josephine County Food Bank does not require you show your ID.
“All we require is for them to come in and let us know how many people are in the household. We’re looking for the amount of adults and the amount of children,” said Collins, “not only for statistic purposes but we also need to know the amount of food we need to give them.”
The lack of food on store shelves is also contributing to the problem. Food banks are suggesting that families use them to help supplement their grocery needs.
“The average household has about a weeks-worth of food in their cupboard and in some cases they can’t put together meals because they don’t have certain products that can make those meals work for them,” said Sampson, “Come in and get assistance at a food bank and then inventory what you have in the box and then go to the grocery store to get what we don’t have.”
All local food banks are posting regular updates on their websites, which are linked throughout this article.
NewsWatch 12 is partnering with our local food banks to collect monetary donations. Any amount can help work towards putting food on the tables of families in your community.
“I just personally want to thank the community. I’ve noticed all of the businesses and organizations, everyone is stepping up and trying to help and I just appreciate all the support that everyone has given each other,” said Collins, “We definitely appreciate the support that people have given us. There’s been a lot of attention on the food bank and we’re very appreciate of that.”
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