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Food insecurity remains high as COVID-19 pandemic continues
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Food insecurity remains high as COVID-19 pandemic continues

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Volunteers with the First Baptist Church of Council Bluffs food pantry move a box down an assembly line on Wednesday morning. The pantry received more than 10,000 pounds of goods from Food Bank for the Heartland.

Heightened food insecurity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue indefinitely, a local official said Friday.

“Feeding America estimates that in Food Bank for the Heartland’s 93-county service area, food insecurity has jumped from 207,000 individuals to 296,000 individuals due to the impact of COVID-19,” said Angie Grote, communications manager at Food Bank for the Heartland.

“In 2020, the Food Bank distributed 32.8 million meals — the most in the organization’s history,” Grote said. “From March 15 to Dec. 31, the Food Bank has served 1.07 million individuals, a 71% increase over the average.”

The nonprofit Food Bank distributes food to 600 food pantries, schools, emergency shelters and other nonprofit partners, the organization’s website states.

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As a growing number of people seek help, the Food Bank is responding — and so are its supporters, Grote said.

“The community continues to be supportive of the Food Bank and our operations, and we are humbled,” she said. “We are continuing to receive generous donations of food, funds and volunteer time. However, the need has been at an unprecedented level for many months, and we anticipate the high need for emergency meals will continue into 2021 and beyond.

“At the Food Bank, we are grateful for all donations we receive — food, funds and time,” Grote said. “We are especially in need of volunteers and financial donations.”

Those interested in volunteering can register at bit.ly/39e0AE2. The Food Bank is limiting capacity in volunteer shifts to allow for social distancing and requiring masks for all volunteers and staff members.

Secure financial donations may be made at foodbankheartland.org.

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