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How you can help food pantry struggling to keep up with demand

Posted at 5:53 PM, Apr 02, 2020

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- The Colonial Heights Food Pantry has been dedicated to feeding families for more than a decade, but now organizers say they're struggling to keep up with the increased demand in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"On a normal week, we would typically serve about 150-160 different households and maybe only two or three of those would be new each week," said Executive Director Warren Hammond.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has seen people lose their jobs and Hammond says they have turned to the food pantry to make ends meet.

"The last two weeks alone, we've served about 20-25 extra families," said Hammond.

While the serving numbers are up, Hammond says their donations have dropped dramatically recently.

Local grocery stores are a mainstay for donating food to Colonial Heights Food Pantry.

"In a typical week, we would have gotten about 7,000 pounds from these local grocery partners. The last two weeks, we've got less than 4,000 pounds," explained Hammond.

He says the reason is simple.

"People are buying more at the grocery store," said Hammond.

Donations from civic groups and churches also down as the groups are no longer meeting due to social distancing guidelines.

Additionally, their big supplier, Feed More, is also having trouble meeting their needs also.

Hammond says the loss of donations means they have to spend more money on food.

"During a typical week, I will spend only about $125 on all this great produce. This week I've had to spend about $900 more dollars"

With donations down and money needed, Hammond says there is also the realization things are going to get tighter.

"I'm worried about our distributions in three months, and what we look like in three months," said Hammond.

The Dunlop House, a faithful donor for many years, has decided to not cancel their annual "Fill the Bowl" night, with proceeds going to the food pantry instead.

"This year we're going to hold a "Virtual Fill the Bowl" event,” said Christi Norton with Dunlop House Assisted Living.

Those wishing to participate can donate online.

"They're matching it for every $20 they will put in $10 dollars up to $400,” said Hammond.

If you would like to donate food, money or if you need assistance, the Colonial Heights Food Pantry is located at 530 South Park Boulevard.