Food Independence has seen a large increase in demand for food during winter and early spring that rival end of year holiday levels. Numbers of households receiving food rose about 40% in February and March over last year, and rival Thanksgiving and Christmas levels. Numbers have been steadily growing since opening but there is usually a big drop early in the year. High gas prices and general inflation are hitting all Americans but are particularly hard on the food insecure. This is further complicated by difficulties sourcing food, reduced amounts of donated food available from Feeding SWVA and larger purchases and higher cost of purchased food.
Food Independence is in the business of providing food to those who need it and will meet the growth in demand, despite the challenges. The pantry is well equipped and has adequate funding, for now, thanks to continuing donor support and a Community Development Block Grant from the VA Dept of Housing and Community Development through the Town of Independence. The grant, which just ended, provided much needed equipment and slowed the drain on donor funds for food purchases. The amazing volunteers who make Food Independence function are being stretched as “the holiday season” demand becomes the new norm. The pantry will keep meeting increases in demand but continued support from donors and volunteers is more important now than ever.