KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Food pantries in the Kansas City metro are finding the need now is greater than when the coronavirus pandemic began.
“There’s been an influx of people coming in – Students, staff, and faculty,” Lea Morvan, a graduate student and food pantry coordinator at Avila University, said. “Though most people coming are students because they don’t have access to as much help and there are usually a lot of things weighing on them.”
The Feed Your Friends food pantry opened at Avila last spring before the pandemic. It serves students, faculty and staff. Since then, they’ve seen how students face food insecurity.
“This food pantry opened at the most amazing time because we were able to supply that help for people and we’ve been trying to get the word out,” Morvan said. “Make sure the community knows there is help here.”
An influx of people have come through in the past six months, according to Morvan, many of whom are looking to supplement their food plan so they don’t have to make tough decisions.
Jewish Family Services has operated two food pantries since 2012. The organization typically serves 450 families per month, but now is helping more than 900 families every month.
“They may not even know they’re looking for food, but if JFS can help supplement their grocery bill, that’s money that can be allotted to other resources and meet other needs the family might have,” Jo Hickey, food pantry director, said.
Many times the food pantry is the first step toward other services, such as mental health resources, job hunting and referrals to other agencies.
Hickey said many people know money is tight right now, but never realized they could qualify for programs like SNAP and WIC.
“Insecurity for all of us is playing a big role in everything,” Hickey said. “So we’re trying to get them connected to services hopefully before things change. We’re all here, ready to shift our programming and be flexible.”
Many federal help programs are set to expire on Dec. 31, such as unemployment benefits, student loan forbearance and a national ban on evictions.
If Congress doesn’t pass a relief package, the need for food pantries is projected to increase even more.
These pantries are always accepting donations, whether monetary or food and supplies.