CLEVELAND — A box of food loaded into trunks with a smile. It’s a routine repeated thousands of times during a food drive through by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank assisted by the Ohio National Guard.
Kristin Warzocha is the President and CEO of the food bank, and says she’s noticed a new trend during the pandemic.
"We look at the data and we look at the people and we’re seeing more and more new families," she told 3News. "Folks who have not needed help before from our network of partner agencies. At our last distribution a third of the families who came through had not been in need prior, and so I think that really speaks to the rising unemployment."
It's a sentiment we heard from numerous people, including a man named Dave.
"I’m not working right now," he said. "That’s the problem; jobs are few and far between."
Since the need for food is increasing, food bank leaders have asked the state of Ohio for more food. They’re also asking for your help.
"Please consider making a financial contribution at www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org," Warzocha said. "We’re using those contributions to buy most needed food items and to provide other sorts of support other kinds of relief."
First-time food box recipient Isaac Henry says he was recently laid off and never imagined himself needing help with groceries. He says he’s appreciative of the help.
"I think it’s beautiful," he said "I like it. You know, it’s my first time being in it, getting food. but I think it’s beautiful."
Warzocha predicts the need will get worse before it gets better. Last week, the food bank gave away 350,000 more pounds of food compared to the previous week. That’s including the food drive and the regular weekly services, and it's why leaders are gearing up to give away more food in the future.
If you need help, call the Greater Cleveland Food Bank Help Center at (216) 738-2067. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.