Lehigh Valley food pantries seeing greater demand during pandemic

Written by on October 27, 2021

Lehigh Valley food pantries seeing greater demand during pandemic

By Megan Frank

October 27, 2021

Volunteers work at a Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse in this 2019 file photo. Photo | Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank

Almost 75,000 people in the Lehigh Valley – one in 10 – are relying on monthly visits to food banks, according to the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

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Food pantry organizers say the pandemic pushed people to the financial edge.

Major Scott Peabody is a commanding officer and pastor with the Salvation Army in Bethlehem. Its food pantry is open Monday through Wednesday. Peabody said they serve up to 50 people each day and have had dozens of new clients since the virus.

“All it takes is somebody becoming sick within the household, and all of a sudden they can’t go to their employer and work. Well, that’s a financial burden,” Peabody said. “We have daycare issues and [people] are struggling with that. Crisis can happen to anybody at any time.”

Peabody said that translates into a need for weekly groceries. He said the amount of help the community needs spikes in the winter months when heating bills and the holidays make it even harder. 

Judy Garcia, a Salvation Army volunteer, said many families have remained in crisis mode since the pandemic began.

“We’re getting a lot of phone calls, a lot of phone calls, yeah. So, I think a lot of people are worried. And, like I said, some [people] still don’t have jobs. And the ones that do have jobs, they don’t have enough to feed their family,” Garcia said.

The Salvation Army receives donations each week and deliveries of fresh produce, meat and dairy items from local grocery stores and Second Harvest Food Bank

Visit the Salvation Army’s website to learn more about their service offerings and to learn how to donate.

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