By Sam Smythe
COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on multiple facets of day-to-day life. For some people who have lost work and income during these last few months, finding ways to care for and feed their family has been the most stressful part. This is where the Food Bank of North Alabama comes into play. Supplying 11 counties and more than 250 local food banks with food, the Food Bank of North Alabama is making great strides to try and help reduce the stress on families during this time.
The need in North Alabama has increased greatly, according to Executive Director Shirley Schofield, who says the Food Bank is handing out double or even quadruple the number of meals they typically would in some places. Since March 15, Schofield says the Food Bank has distributed over 1.9 million meals to those in need through partner food pantries. This averages out to about 29,000 meals a day. While this is an incredible feat, Schofield says the Food Bank needs your help to keep going.
The Food Bank typically gets a good of amount of donated food from partner grocery stores. The stores will donate the food they are unable to sell, but with supplies at grocery stores being low, the amount the grocery stores are donating is smaller than normal. While they are still accepting donated foods, Schofield says the best way for people to help is to give monetarily through their website, foodbanknorthal.org. Every $1 that is donated funds seven meals going out to those in need.
We also spoke with Manna House, a local food bank that has seen first-hand the impact COVID-19 has had on the people of Huntsville/Madison County. Manna House supplies local families with items ranging from groceries to hygiene products such as deodorant, toothpaste, and bath soap. The line at Manna House has doubled and sometimes tripled with people seeking to get supplies for their families.
Fran Fluhler, who is the director of Manna House, says some of the main items they need include hygiene products and kid-friendly foods such as Pop-Tarts, cereal, macaroni and cheese, and packaged snacks, etc. Fluhler says the outpouring of support has been tremendous. “Manna House is very grateful for a generous community that came together and provided food for families in need in their time of crisis,” Fluhler said.
Manna House has also slightly increased the hours they are open. The hours now are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Learn more at mymannahouse.com.