COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The fallout from the coronavirus is leaving hunger relief organizations in a bind to meet the increase in demand.
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports roughly 10 percent of Georgians and Alabamians are unemployed, meaning those 10 percent could really use the service of a food bank.
Shelves are emptying faster than normal at places like the Valley Rescue Mission and Feeding the Valley. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing more people than ever to ask for assistance.
“Just this year we’ve given out over 2,400 bags of groceries,” said Greg Wilson with the Valley Rescue Mission.
“About half the people we’re seeing at our food distribution sites we’ve never seen before. They’ve never sought the services of a food bank before,” said Feeding the Valley CEO Frank Sheppard.
To put it in perspective, at Feeding the Valley, Sheppard estimates they give out about one million pounds of food per month. Since the pandemic, that’s been increased to 1.5 million pounds.
Help from organizations like Raytheon Technologies, the parent company of Pratt and Whitney, really makes an impact.
“This donation will allow us to buy 300,000 pounds of food and prepare about 240,000 meals for the community,” Sheppard said.
Feeding the Valley can’t have volunteers right now, so they actually have National Guard members packaging food and cleaning their warehouse. Empty shelves and warehouses are putting a dent in how these organizations help the community, and if people don’t do what they can to help, others will suffer.
“Individuals are in direct need. A lot of people have lost jobs, a lot of people have lost the ability to put food on their own shelves. And they look to Valley Rescue Mission to help feed their families,” Wilson said.
“Cash donations are the best for us because we can buy purchasing in bulk get the price down to about 10 percent of retail,” said Sheppard. “So, the dollar you hand me will get me a lot more food than the can of food you hand me.
Feeding the Valley has multiple distribution sites each month as does Valley Rescue Mission.