KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The line of cars outside Mimi’s Pantry in Riverside, Missouri, on Wednesday morning is a sign people are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The food pantry hands out perishable and non-perishable food to people in need roughly 10 times a month.
Kelley Catterson, the executive director of Mimi's Kitchen, said demand increased by 20% from October to November, one of the highest jumps she’s seen at any point during the pandemic.
The spike in demand coincided with a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Data that 41 Action News recorded from health departments in the area show agencies reported 2,752 new COVID-19 cases during the week of Oct. 17-23. The number of new cases in one week peaked during the week of Nov. 14-20 with 9,660 cases.
Catterson believes the spike in COVID-19 cases could mean families are losing jobs, or family members can’t work while they’re sick or quarantined. She knows her work at the pantry makes a difference.
“There is definitely a huge sense of gratitude. We have tears, tears of joy and gratitude," Catterson said. "Sometimes tears of sadness for having to be there. But telling us how grateful they are we’re able to provide the service for them and provide them a little relief."
Normally, clients of Mimi’s Pantry are allowed inside the pantry to pick exactly what they need like at a grocery store. But because of the spike in COVID-19 cases, Mimi’s staff shifted to a drive-through distribution method in the parking lot. Volunteers ran the same operation in the spring when COVID-19 first hit the area.
Catterson said donations are crucial right now. You can donate money to the pantry on its website or buy groceries, storage containers, trash bags and other items to drop off at the pantry located at 2255 NW Vivion Road, Riverside, Missouri, 64150.