CLEVELAND — This week marks a lot of pandemic milestones, including two years ago when the Greater Cleveland Food Bank started hosting its weekly drive-through food distribution at the Muni Lot. The goal was to help as many families in need as possible as pandemic-related shutdowns started. Now, the organization is hosting its 100th food distribution at the city's Muni Lot.
Karen Ponza, with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, tells News 5 at least 2,000 people are expected to attend Tuesday’s distribution, which was moved from Thursday due to St. Patrick’s Day.
“We're still serving more people than we were before the pandemic,” Ponza said.
At the height of the pandemic, the food bank was helping feed up to 5,000 families weekly. In total since March 2020, it served nearly 180,000 households and more than 367,000 people. In 2021 alone, it served 87,000 new clients for the first time.
The numbers have since gone down, but Ponza says the organization is now seeing another spike in demand. Like families it serves, the food bank is dealing with rising food and energy costs. For families, an end to federal pandemic aid in December has also contributed to demand.
“We are seeing for the food bank itself almost a 20% increase in our food costs and we've had to purchase more food,” she explained.
As demand remains high, so does the need for volunteers and donations. Right now, the yearly Harvest for Hunger campaign is going on, making it easy for you to contribute when shopping at grocery stores.
“As long as the need is still there, we're going to continue to be there,” Ponza said.
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank will be here Tuesday in the Muni lot from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. You are required to register ahead of time either online or by phone at 216-738-20667.
To register online, click here.