MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many families turned to organizations for help with food security. While pandemic appears to be waning, Minnesota's largest free meals organization says they are not seeing a slowdown in need.
At the Loaves and Fishes warehouse, the grocery shopping and the menu planning never stops.
"So this is fried chicken, and basically it comes already cooked for us, so I just have to reheat it and put it into the oven," said Kelly Simon, the Loaves and Fishes Peace House site coordinator.
Peace House Meals Site Coordinator Kelly Simon sees hunger every day and it’s partly her job to fill the need. During the pandemic, the need has never stopped.
"We saw triple the amount of meals go out and we’re on pace for that this year," said Cathey Maes, Loaves and Fishes executive director.
Maes says Loaves and Fishes served almost 4.5 million meals last year across their 30 Twin Cities metro sites. They’re on pace to serve just as many this year.
"The divide just continues to get greater and greater," said Maes. "And so, the need for food is one of the most important things that families feel right now."
A complicating factor at the moment is rising grocery prices for products across the board from meat to potatoes. The prices are rising faster than inflation.
The latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows year over year, meat prices are up almost 6 percent. It’s up more than 5 percent for fresh fruits, almost 4.5 percent for poultry and 4 percent for processed fruits and veggies.
For many families, it’s adding up.
"The folks that are coming are desperate," said Maes. "And they need help. And we’re here to do that."