When it comes to free food, demand is up and donations are down.
To help feed the hungry, volunteers have turned a school parking lot into a pantry.
“That’s what's important,” said Maria Estrada with the Wyatt Academy, a charter school in Denver, Colorado.
Once a week, her team passes out free bags of food to families and to people like Marco Esparza.
“I’m getting some apples and potatoes,” he said.
For Esparza, these donations more than just feed his family.
“With this kind of pandemic, it helps us to stay safe at home."
Since COVID-19 hit, Estrada says more people are requesting food donations across the country while volunteers adjust to the new norm and practice new safety guidelines.
“Things are different,” Estrada said about food donation centers. “We now have to make sure everybody is wearing gloves. We want to make sure everybody is being safe. Everybody has their masks on. We’re trying to keep everybody social distanced.”
Estrada says the COVID-19 crisis is creating somewhat of a national food shortage crisis. That’s why they’re now partnering with the YMCA.
“When COVID hit, YMCAs across the country started to support food programming,” said Katie Canfield with the YMCA.
Nationwide, the YMCA has provided 37 million meals to more than one million people in the last six months. That’s an increase of more than 25% since the same time last year as they now deal with new safety regulations.
“We are making sure that our community is using hand sanitizer,” Canfield said. “We are currently handling the food and then we hand them the bag when its complete.”
Moving forward, the YMCA hopes to go mobile and bring food straight to people’s houses.
But for now, they’ll focus on helping feed people in person.