Food banks and pantries see continued need during COVID-19 pandemic

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Food banks and pantries are reporting continued need as the pandemic stretches into its seventh month.

"From January to June, we actually experienced 100 percent increase over (the same time period) last year. And last year, was a record year for us," explained JoAnn Rey, the Food Pantry Director at Covenant Life Church in Cary.

She says they're serving nearly 400 people a month on average, a mix of returning clients visiting more often and new people.

"It's really startling. We've been here six years, so we've seen a lot of variation, but to see the level of desperation now, and people having to make decisions between rent and food and feeding the children," Rey said.

Rey shared written testimonials from clients, which highlight the scope of need.

"Thank you for the box of food. I haven't eaten in 2 days and cannot tell you how much I appreciate this food," wrote a client.

"The Food Pantry at Covenant Life Church has been an important source of food and nutrition for my son and the food given has helped my son maintain his weight as he has been sick," added another client.

Even as jobless claims have steadily decreased over the past few months, Rey notes they've seen a shifting dynamic in need.

"Whereas some people had need early on may have returned to work, but we now have whole other sector that is coming in. And people who never, ever believed they'd have to visit a food pantry," said Ray.

"Unlike a natural disaster where there's kind of a targeted area ...this has been a crisis that has really affected people across the board," adds Jessica Slider Whichard, the Director of Communications for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

In August, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina distributed 14.47 million pounds of food, a 13% increase from July.

ABC 11 is a partner with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, teaming up to work on the ABC 11 Together Food Drive together.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.