MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB)–Food banks and charities across the Panhandle are suffering due to the coronavirus. As unemployment soars, these helpful organizations suffer even more.
Innovative Charities of Northwest Florida says they set a record last week in Calhoun and Jackson Counties when it comes to new applicants.
“Almost three times as normal as far as new sign-ups, I’d say three times as many,” said Robert Arnold, the Director of Innovative Charities of Northwest Florida.
A demand that is getting hard to meet.
“They’re trying to push more food into the counties and we’re trying to give it away and more people are showing up,” Arnold said.
Innovative Charities runs a food pantry in Jackson County every Wednesday from 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The pantry is located at 1994 Hwy 71 South in Marianna.
On Thursday’s, they run a food pantry in Calhoun County from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at 12122 Hwy 20 West in Clarksville.
Arnold says they may schedule extra drops in the coming weeks. But getting enough food has been a slow process.
Chipola Family Ministries is fighting a similar battle as they feed more than 30,000 people each year. But on Wednesday, the ministry had to close its doors until further notice.
”My volunteers are over 60 years old and they’re asked to stay at home so I don’t even have volunteers to run it if they asked me to stay open tomorrow,” said Coba Beasley, the Executive Director of Chipola Family Ministries.
Beasley revealed they’ve received no food donations since the pandemic started. He says it’s been nearly impossible to get food even from non-profit suppliers.
“I’ve called all the way to Atlanta, Montgomery, Tennessee. I’ve called all those and nobody has food,” Beasley said.
The pandemic is also impacting Hurricane Michael recovery efforts.
“We were doing a lot with Hurricane Michael repairs and storm victims. Well, that’s actually stocked off a little bit because all the volunteer crews that were here all went home,” Arnold said.
Both Arnold and Beasley say they’re concerned for these coming months.
“There’s too many out here that can’t afford to go buy enough food for two or three weeks to feed all their kids to go lockdown or something if they were to do that,” Arnold said.
To learn more about Innovative Charities and to donate, visit https://www.innovativecharities.org/
To learn more about Chipola Family Ministries and to donate, visit http://chipolafamilyministries.com/