BUFFALO, N.Y. — More and more people are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in ways that are putting extra pressure on communities in Western New York.
Community organizations such as Feedmore WNY have been stepping in to help.
Catherine Shick with Feedmore WNY says she's seen first-hand how many more people need her organization's services.
"Our organization actually has seen many people reach out, and it's their first time that they may have needed the assistance of a food pantry or soup kitchen," she told 2 On Your Side.
Feedmore WNY provides food to dozens of food pantries and soup kitchens across Erie County. Recently the organization has had to expand.
The Meals on Wheels program has been helping fill in the gaps for so many who suddenly need their services.
Shick previously told 2 On Your Side that she anticipated an increased need as local businesses began shutting their doors. Recently, she says the need has surged.
"We actually have distributed more than 1.5 million pounds of food in the past month," she said.
That need is 41 percent more than Feedmore WNY would normally distribute this time of year. Those numbers include emergency meal kits filled with shelf-stable items that delivered straight to people's homes by volunteers.
Feedmore WNY isn't the only organization feeling the pinch. Twin Cities Meals on Wheels and food pantries across the region are seeing similar trends.
Shick says volunteers have stepped up but there's another need: food. The social distancing regulations and other restrictions mean Feedmore WNY has seen a shortage and they've been struggling to refill their stock.
"These big seasonal food drives that we normally depend on this time of year have been canceled due to the coronavirus," she said.
The seasonal food drives would normally help Feedmore WNY continue to help families during the summer months when giving is not as high as other times during the year.
There's also a need for protective equipment for volunteers who have helped keep the organization running.
Schick says donations will be the key to making sure Feedmore WNY can keep serving those in need.
More information about donating to and volunteering with Feedmore WNY can be found here.