(WFRV) — At Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, the last few months were much busier than usual.
“We were seeing a 40 percent increase in need before the holiday season, that’s a huge number,” Patti Habeck, President & CEO of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin told Local 5. “Typically we serve about 400,000 people in need. We were serving about 600,000 people with our partners in the hunger relief system. And then at the holidays, that just bumped even higher.”
Typically feeding the organization supplies food pantries in the area.
Over the past few months, they’ve also been directly distributing food to those in need.
“It really has to do with making sure that the influx of food that’s often perishable is reaching those in need very very quickly,” Habeck said.
The St. Joseph Food Program in Menasha has also made changes.
“We are still doing our drive-up method,” Executive Director Monica Clare told Local 5 of their food distribution. “That is still being done entirely outside.”
That’s not all that’s new at the pantry.
“This year was not typical at all, actually,” Clare said. “We saw an uptick in numbers over the last couple of months, the effects of the pandemic making themselves known. I think that’s going to continue to be more and more as we go forward.”
The experts say they expect the trend to continue.
“It’ll come down a little bit in spring,” Habeck said, “but we’re talking really small numbers. There’s still way too many people in need.”
Clare recalled a time not to long ago where national events lead to longer lines at the food pantry.
“When we think about what happened in 2008 with the recession, it was actually about two years before we reached our peak numbers,” she said.
Clare says people will exhaust other options before finally turning to a food pantry.
“I anticipate our numbers will continue to climb for a while,” she said.
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