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Chesterfield food bank expands after peaked interest during pandemic

Chesterfield food pantry expands after peaked interest during pandemic
Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 23:47:52-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Nearly overnight, the coronavirus pandemic led to an overwhelming demand for services from the Chesterfield Food Bank. The facility increased food distribution from roughly 8,000 to 10,000 people a month to 30,000 to 40,000 people.

A year and a half since the start of the pandemic, the need in the community remains the same.

“We’re still serving 30,000 to 40,000 people a month,” outreach director Nicholas Jenkins said.

In October, Jenkins says the Chesterfield Food Bank changed its name to the Chesterfield Food Bank Outreach Center to better reflect the facility’s long-term mission in the community.

“That’s been for me, one of the most thrilling silver linings to COVID,” Jenkins says. “It’s allowed us to recognize the significance of not only providing food for those in need but providing a way out from the situation they may be facing.”

While food distribution continues three times a week, both as the facility’s Iron Bridge Road location and at on-site locations, the food bank has expanded outreach services to include job and workforce training, mental health services and substance abuse programs through partnerships in the community.

The facility also has mobile units, that allow outreach teams to set up locations in high-risk communities to assess the greatest needs of the population and coordinate appropriate services.

Additional funding has also led to larger storage units and future plans to build a 17,000 sq. ft. building in the same location as the current facility, where outreach services can be expanded.

“Which will not only create more warehouse space for our day-to-day operations but create space for third-party resource providers to be able to come in as tenants and for us to be able to offer as many things as possible in one spot,” Jenkins says.

While meeting the needs of the community will always be the heart of the Chesterfield Food Bank Outreach Center, Jenkins says building a stronger community for future generations will be the facility’s lasting legacy.

“Our mission and vision are to fight hunger and empower lives,” Jenkins says. “We believe we are able to do this by having authentic relationships through the love of God with our community.”

If you’d like to help the Chesterfield Food Bank Outreach Center with its mission, you can provide monetary and or food donations. Volunteers are also needed on a daily basis.