SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Coronavirus pandemic has caused Florida’s unemployment rate to jump to 14.5% percent. Now, more than 1.4 million people are out of work and relying on food banks for help.
However, these local non-profits say they’ve seen about a 400 percent increase in people needing help putting food on the table, but there’s another problem… the supply has not been able to fully meet that demand.
In Sarasota County, All Faiths Food Bank says they have seen a drop in resources since the pandemic began, but thankfully, they have enough funding set aside to purchase extra food, but they are needing more monetary donations.
“It’s starting to level out, but we still are purchasing a lot of food. We have been putting orders in way in advance since the supply chain has also changed because of this. We have orders in far out into the future to make sure that we can sustain what we have,” explained Denise Cotler, the Chief Development Officer for All Faiths Food Bank.
In Manatee County, Feeding Tampa Bay has been able to feed 1,500 people every Tuesday by giving each family $75 dollars’ worth of groceries. However, with the unemployment numbers still rising, they’re hoping more donations from the community will help meet the needs of local families.
“We are seeing 1.7 million who need us, so that’s a lot of people in need. Surveys from early on say that 70% of these people are families that have never imagined themselves in a food line,” said Shannon Oliviero, the External Affairs Officer for Feeding Tampa Bay.
Plus, Mayors’ Feed The Hungry Program – which has 25-food pantries across both counties on the Suncoast – is also facing a huge dip in donations.
“We’re at a point where there is a lot more demand than there is supply, so we’ve been trying to reach out to the public. If anyone has some money that they can help meet this urgent need to help feed hungry people and children in our communities. We need help, and we need it now,” Joel Swallow, the Chairman of the Mayors’ Feed The Hungry Program, tells ABC7.