CHARLOTTE — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs and many families are seeking food pantries for the very first time.
Loaves and Fishes’ executive director Tina Postel said they shut down their brick and mortar locations this week for the safety for their volunteers. Thankfully, its mobile pantries will continue to run in parking lots.
"I would say our demand is just through the roof so we’re seeing triple the number of people in need -- and that’s just the calls we’re able to answer," Postel said.
Postel said 3,500 families were given a box of food last week. That's three times the number of families they would typically feed in April.
On Monday, a mobile food pantry opened at the Camino Community Center in University City. Channel 9 saw a line of cars stretching down Stetson Drive to North Tryon Street.
Postel said 375 families picked up food boxes Monday morning. Later that afternoon, another 245 families picked up food boxes at a mobile food pantry at Goodwill off Wilkinson Boulevard.
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Willamae Green picked up three food boxes for her family of three. Green said she lost two jobs because of COVID-19, and her husband's salary alone isn't enough.
“A social worker was able to help me with this,” Green said. “This is the first time I’ve been at Loaves and Fishes. I’ve heard of Loaves and Fishes. I never got a referral to come here, but I got one today.”
Each box contains fresh and nonperishable food for one person.
Erika McCloud, with the nonprofit Care Ring, said she picked up food boxes to feed nine families.
"They’re going to be very thankful," said McCloud.
Loaves and Fishes said Second Harvest Food Bank along with their most recent food drive, is providing food now, but they know the need will only grow in the coming weeks.
"It makes a difference. It’s a blessing," said Green.
Loaves and Fishes said it also has about 25 to 50 referrals for delivery. Those are people who are 65 or older with medical conditions who can't get to a mobile food pantry.
Postel said if all goes well this week, they could expand that option.
You need a referral in order to get food through Loaves and Fishes. You can get a referral through your school, a social worker, pastor/church or a doctor. If you have questions about how to get a referral, you can call the Loaves and Fishes main line at 704-523-4333.
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