As the valley continues to feel the economic implications of the coronavirus, those at the FIND Food Bank are working overtime. They say there has been an increase in the demand for food assistance.
"We have been receiving many, many phone calls from people whose hours have been cut significantly and days have been cut significantly at work, which is translating into 'we need help with food,’” said Debbie Espinosa, President & CEO of FIND Food Bank.
"It is so difficult for me right now hearing the stories that are coming in from our community about people wondering how they're going to make it,” she said.
Many businesses and individuals depend on the dollars coming in during this usually-busy season to get them through the slower summer months. And with major events canceled and tourism already down, Espinosa says, “We're very concerned that because they don't have the savings to make it through the summer time, the lines will continue to increase."
She says lines for food assistance are already longer. FIND says they feed about 90,000 per month, but with the impact of covid-19, they are estimating they will be helping more than 100,000 each month.
"They are going to start choosing between whether or not they pay for their rent, pay for their medicine or pay for their food,” said Espinosa.
She says the other problem is that people are panicking and stockpiling non-perishable food items -- taking affordable food off the shelves from families that depend on it. "A lot of those items are no longer available at the grocery stores and what are available are the higher priced items,” she said.
FIND says due to increased demand, they are expanding their 'mobile market’ program: pop-up grocery stores where they distribute free, nutritious products.
Espinosa says FIND is in need of volunteers as well as food and financial donations to help those in need. You can donate or get involved here.