Demand for food for hungry families isn’t slowing down in 2021, Feeding Northeast Florida works to meet the challenge

ONLY ON: A strain on food banks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

The largest food bank in our area allowed our cameras inside its warehouse Monday to see just how busy it’s been since the pandemic started.

Feeding Northeast Florida is a major piece of the puzzle when it comes to making sure families have enough to eat.

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The pandemic has created a new normal for the food bank as it faces challenges to keep up with increased demand.

Sarah Hall, Director of Strategic Initiatives showed Action News Jax around the warehouse.

“There is a shredded chicken, milk, cheese, hotdogs, yogurt, sour cream, onions, oranges, and potatoes,” she said as she opened a box.

The box of food she showed us may not seem like a lot but for many local families, it’s a lifeline.

“We take these boxes we give them out or drive-thru mobile pantry events and then we also supplement it with more fresh produce,” said Hall.

For an average family, each one of those boxes could last up to a week.

“Everything that you see in here will be gone by tomorrow,” she said as we walked into a massive cooler.

That’s how it’s been since the pandemic started almost a year ago, creating a new normal for Feeding Northeast Florida, our area’s largest food bank.

“I’ve worked in the food bank for the last 10 years and this is by far the most in need I have ever seen,” said Hall.

Much of that need is being fueled by families who have never needed help buying groceries until COVID19 left many without a job.

And the need isn’t slowing down.

“We actually just pulled the numbers and for January of this year, we’re still distributing 25 percent more food than we would in a normal year,” said Hall.

To keep up with demand Feeding Northeast Florida has bought two additional refrigerated trucks and leased three more box trucks thanks to relief grants.

And a USDA coronavirus food assistance program recently started back up providing stacks of fresh produce and meats, but that help is slated to end by Feb. 28.

It’s been a challenge to keep the food chain going, but without this help, many families will go hungry.

“Pay attention, because this affects our entire community,” said Hall.

If you’d like to help, Feeding Northeast Florida said the best way to do so is by donating. And it doesn’t take much, a $10 donation will help buy 60 pounds worth of food.

To donate click here.