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Food Bank Anticipates High Demand Because Of COVID-19 Crisis

A close-up view of stacks of cans in an otherwise mostly empty warehouse room
Elaine Thompson
AP Photo

A food bank that serves eight counties in southern Michigan is facing a surge in demand for groceries because of the coronavirus pandemic. The South Michigan Food Bank says a food pantry that normally serves about 85 families had 212 of them show up Monday, with as many as 200 more families in line when supplies ran out.

CEO Peter Vogel said the Food Bank was preparing for 300 families to visit a Battle Creek-area pantry today. That pantry normally sees one-third that many people.

“The part we’re not sure of: does this look a little bit like what is happening to grocery stores? Where grocery stores are getting raided because people are trying to stock up now?” Vogel asked.

“It wouldn’t shock me that the people who are really food insecure are maybe trying to stock up a little bit right now, and that while we may have growth for an extended period of time over months, we might just be hitting a big spurt right now where everybody’s trying to stock up,” he added.

Vogel is erring on the side of preparedness, planning for high demand.

“My guess is we’re going to need somewhere between 50 percent more and double the amount of food over the next month, month and a half or two months than we normally distribute out.

“We’re working really hard to figure out exactly where that’s going to come from,” he said.

Vogel said he’s asked the state for extra funding.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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