Hudson Valley food pantries still face high demand despite reopening
The Regional Food Bank of New York says it served 50% more families this year than last year across the board.
"We are seeing a frightening increase in the people coming to us for food assistance,” says Diane Serratore, of People to People Rockland Food Pantry. "We first approached this as a health crisis and it was, but the economic crisis resulting from this is going to have long, long-term implications for all of us."
According to the state Labor Department, the Hudson Valley unemployment rate last month was 11.2%. Orange County experienced the highest rate in the region.
The Florida Community Food Pantry in Orange County says it is also facing a surge.
"Our volumes are up 40% from this time last year, so we're certainly much busier,” says Beth Maas, of Florida Community Food Pantry.
News 12 is told both organizations receive the bulk of their food from Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, which along with Food Bank of New York is experiencing a 50% increase in demand.
Food Bank of Hudson Valley Director Paul Stermer says the need for assistance is large.
"Things are opening up again and the economy seems to be turning a corner, but there's still a lot of need out there,” says Stermer.
Issues food banks have faced include shortages of food and volunteers.
New York provided an additional $25 million to food pantries last month, but the Regional Food Bank of New York tells News 12 it has already finished roughly a quarter of its $4 million grant.
“Our issue isn't about funding the operations, it’s about making sure there's enough food in the pipeline to fill the need,” says Stermer.