The Arlington Community Food Bank gave out food for holiday dinners this November and continued to see a large need.
They began offering essential holiday items on Nov. 16.
“I don’t have specific numbers, but tentatively, just as they have been for COVID, our numbers have been up around 50 to 80 percent,” said Carla Gastineau, director of the Arlington Community Food Bank.
During the week of November 16 they served about 350 families. During the same period last year they served about 210 families.
Volunteers came out to help the local food bank and serve those in need.
“It’s for the community,” said volunteer Taylor Chapman.
“Just to give back to the community. Some people aren’t as fortunate as I am and I like to spread that out,” said volunteer Carson Asper.
The increased need is in part from people in transition with their housing, said Gastineau.
“There’s a lot of out-of-area people who don’t have a permanent address because of COVID,” she said. “I think that’s going to continue with the second wave of lockdowns now."
The food bank is currently doing what it can to keep up with the current need.
“We currently do have enough volunteers as we just got another wave from a social media post,” said Gastineau.
Donations is where the food bank could most use support, she said.
“Monetary donations have dropped a significant amount over the last two months,” she said.
Arlington’s Santa Run should help, said Gastineau, but she also hopes more monetary contributions come in as well.
“We’re still not really encouraging direct food donations,” as they take more time to process which is difficult with limited volunteers and because food purchased directly by the food bank is safer right now.
The food bank switched to a drive-thru model during the last week of October.
Typically during COVID, food bank clients have stayed in the parking lot and are brought the food by volunteers. That meant a lot of people and cars backing up in a tight parking lot.
Gastineau said she was concerned for safety with the earlier darkness and because of weather.
“It’s much safer and much more efficient,” with the new drive-thru, she said. During one Thanksgiving dinner distribution night they moved through 135 cars in 90 minutes, she said.
HCI Steel Buildings, a local Arlington company, is also donating a covered area to help volunteers with the new model.
“So my volunteers pushing the carts out will be covered,” said Gastineau.
They are currently using a pop-up tent, which is not as good for bad weather, she said.
The food bank has received a grant for Christmas hams this year and is preparing its home delivery for Christmas dinners for those unable to come to the food bank.
Gastineau said although need is high, anybody who needs help should stop by.
“We’re still encouraging people who are in need to certainly come,” she said. “There is a higher need but we do still have enough for everyone.”