CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Across the Lowcountry, there are more food giveaways taking place ahead of Thanksgiving.
However, the pandemic is putting a financial strain on families every day and more people are turning to charitable organizations for help.
The Lowcountry Food Banks’ Chief Development Officer, Brenda Shaw, says more than half of the people seeking assistance at distributions since the pandemic began indicated that it was their first time seeking charitable food assistance.
She says most agencies they partner with are seeing a 50 percent increase of people seeking food.
“We all need to understand that hunger is a 365-day issue, it doesn’t go away after the first of the year,” Shaw said. “The Lowcountry Food Bank will be here for people year-round. It’s what we do every single day and we will do our best to make sure that we have enough food to feed our neighbors in need.”
Shaw says they’ve also seen a recent spike in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.
“Even over the last two months it has spiked up again and we believe that’s due to unemployment benefits ceasing for a lot of people,” Shaw said. “I think people are getting nervous about the holidays.”
On Monday, the Community Resource Center in Summerville held a turkey and food giveaway. The center’s Executive Director, Louis Smith, says about 800 cars arrived.
“This pandemic has wreaked havoc, people are underemployed or not employed at all,” Smith said. “It’s what we call a perfect storm with everything that’s going on this holiday season.”
Lowcountry Food Bank officials say they’ve seen a 400% increase for emergency food assistance at its onsite food pantry. The increase began after the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring.
Shaw says Feeding American predicts that the food needs won’t return to normal for another 12 to 18 months.
The Lowcountry Food Bank officials say about 75% of the people seeking assistance consider themselves as high risk for serious illness from the coronavirus due to age, long-term health concerns or both.
Shaw says the food bank has enough food for the demands in the Lowcountry. They have an online interactive map to help people find free food close to them.
“We are doing more and more distributions throughout the 10 counties we serve in underserved areas, so we are trying to take food distributions to people,” Shaw said.
If you’d like to donate or volunteer you can visit https://www.lowcountryfoodbank.org/ for more information.