Increased demand for food distributions has put a strain on hunger-fighting organizations across the country, including locally, the Center for People in Need. More than 550 new families have signed up for their services since late March, and demand continues to grow.
Nebraska’s National Guard teamed up with the Center to help serve the increasing number of families in the community struggling with food insecurity.
“The Center now serves more than 1,200 families every week,” said the Center’s executive director Chris Funk. “Having the National Guard here has really helped.”
Experts estimate there could be a 45 percent increase in food insecurity in the next few months. Locally, that could mean 18,207 more hungry residents of Lancaster County. Already, the Center is seeing an average of 75 new families sign up for services each week.
“With the Guard’s help, we’ve been able to bag more food, run our drive-through more efficiently, and give our staff some relief from the pressure of distributing food and diapers five days a week,” said deputy director Steve Sheridan. “We’re ready for the increase we’re already seeing and for what’s yet to come.”
Members of the Guard began assisting the Center on Thursday, April 30, and will continue helping bag and distribute food and diapers through the end of May.
“The Guard is really helping us stay ahead. We’re committed to serving the community through the pandemic and beyond,” Funk said. “The financial strain being felt by people in our community now may continue to affect them for months, or even years.”
“Eventually the threat of COVID-19 will pass, and we will celebrate with the rest of the world when that happens,” she said. “But the economic impact of the pandemic won’t magically disappear when the threat of the virus does. Rest assured, we’ll be here to serve as long as there are people in need.”