RI Food Bank: Many residents taking advantage of food pantries, some for the first time

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Due to the pandemic, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank has seen more people depending on their services ─ some even visiting local pantries for the first time.

Hugh Minor, director of communications for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank said the numbers are skyrocketing.

“We are distributing more food, we’ve even added Saturday deliveries,” Minor said.

Data shows the month of March saw an almost 400,000-pound increase in food distribution in comparison to last year.

Courtesy: Rhode Island Community Food Bank

“Last week we distributed 350,000 pounds of food, even before this started we were serving 53,000 people every month and those are many people who rely on us to put food on the shelves in their homes,” Minor said.

Minor said many Rhode Islanders are finding themselves at their doors for the first time in the search of food to feed their families.

“Many of them are saying, ‘We don’t know where to start. I’ve never had to get food assistance before, where do I go? How do I get help?'” Minor said. “Even though unemployment benefits are out there, a lot of them haven’t kicked in yet, so people are really concerned about how they are going to get food right now.”

Minor said safety is still a big priority and they’ve changed their distribution methods to follow social distancing guidelines.

“Many of the locations have set up drive-up distribution,” Minor said. “Normally they would come in and shop for what they need. But now they get a bag of food in their car and drive away with what they need,” Minor said.

WPRI 12 will be teaming up with the food bank next week on a fundraising drive. We will be raising money, not food donations, due to health and safety concerns and social distancing. The WPRI 12 Food Bank Fundraising Drive will be next Friday.

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