RICHMOND, Va. — For Irvin Johnson, music has been a saving grace. He turned to the art form after he lost his sight two years ago.
"The only gift I do. I love to go out and sing for people everywhere," Johnson said.
As music feeds his soul, he's among the over 2,000 Central Virginians who get help getting food through Feed More through the food bank's Meals on Wheels program.
"It's a very giving community that we have here in our area and folks are out there to help," David Wadelich, Feed More's chief collaboration and programs officer, said.
The Meals on Wheels program is just one of many that are offered by Feed More. Those in charge said they are gearing up for higher demand all around.
"We're preparing for the worst and hoping for the best," Wadelich said.
The reason for the recent stress is an end to additional money that is given to recipients of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). At the start of the pandemic, those who were already enrolled got an additional $95. But Congress ended those payments with the last ones going out on Thursday.
"We're expecting definitely a slight increase but it's really hard to quantify exactly what that's going to mean," Wadelich said.
Wadelich said they won't likely get a good idea of the demand until late March when the first post-COVID payments start to run out.
"Our Meals on Wheels program, which predominantly deals with homebound seniors, we're expecting our seniors to be hit a little harder than everyone else because many of them are on that fixed income," Wadelich said.
Johnson has received SNAP for four years and Meals on Wheels for three. He said it's going to be hard on everyone as the drop comes amid rising costs.
"You spend now on bills and stuff like that and before you know, you ain't got nothing. No, it don't go far at all. Everything is going up," Johnson said.
Johnson said while the start of the month will be fine, by the end, he expects he and others will likely need to turn places like Feed More and credit the work they do.
"Feed More helps out a whole lot. You know what I'm saying? That's like your backbone right there. When you ain't got enough, you know, go to Feed More and they will help you out."
Wadelich said that's what they're here for.
"We've got to have folks that are willing to kind of step up and say they need help-. And we're willing to put them in touch and kind of get them through that thought time," Wadelich said.