St. Louis Area Food Pantries Provide Food To More Families During Coronavirus Pandemic

As shops continue to close and unemployment rises, more and more people in the St. Louis area are concerned about where their next meal will come from.

To meet the need, pantries and other organizations that sell groceries have stepped up their sales efforts this holiday season.

The directors of the St. Louis Area Foodbank and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis said the demand for food is growing sharply. Many people in the region are lining up at distribution centers for the first time because they lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is serving approximately 5 million meals a month in the St. Louis area, compared to nearly 3.1 million pre-pandemic meals, said Meredith Knopp, president and CEO of St. Louis Area Foodbank.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank

Volunteers and team members from the St. Louis Area Foodbank distributed meals in 10 different locations in the area Tuesday to meet the increased demand for food. The organization distributed approximately 400 turkeys and holiday meals to families in need in downtown St. Louis.

“We see it in our subway and in our rural areas,” said Knopp of the increased demand. “There is no one excepted and there are so many people who are literally trying to put food on the table for the first time this holiday season.”

Knopp said people who once had their own successful business or worked for large corporations are now thinking about whether to pay bills or put food on the table. She also said that people who volunteer to help distribute food, in turn, line up to get food aid.

Social organizations have been providing meals and housewares for families throughout the pandemic, but the increased need for meals is the number one request from people in the area today, said Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Metropolitan St. Louis Urban League.

“When you look at the events of the past nine months and the economic devastation and uncertainty about the future, so many people have come through our lines,” said McMillan. “So when you look at the inability to go back and get a position in the industry you worked in for so many years, it really creates economic instability and uncertainty about the future that then turns into food insecurity for us families too, especially children. “

The Urban League hosted their 23rd annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway ride Tuesday. On this Thanksgiving Day, 6,000 families were provided with food, face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. Last year the organization helped 2,000 families.

McMillan said the organization has requested more donations from sponsors this year to help people feel more normal.

“If you look at the middle class families who were previously doing very well and had job security and benefits and so many other things that we all take for granted in this country in February, you will see a very different face of poverty That is due to the pandemic, ”said McMillan.

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