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Virginia Peninsula Foodbank seeing increased demand for food assistance

Virginia Peninsula Foodbank leaders say a big cause behind the increase of people at their mobile food pantries could be the expiring eviction moratorium.

HAMPTON, Va. — Hampton Roads food banks are trying to keep up as they quickly run out of food supply at pantry locations. 

The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank is one of the organizations seeing this trend.

Volunteers with the food bank hustled around to fill every car in line with boxes of fresh food and meals for families in the parking lot of the Hampton Coliseum Thursday. 

The food bank's Chief Executive Officer, Karen Joyner, said the need for food assistance is slowly back on the uptick.

"During COVID, of course, we had a huge increase," said Joyner. "We did see it go down, but now we're seeing it inch up again."

To try to keep up with this demand, Joyner said her team tends to slightly overestimate how many households they will be supplying at each mobile location. 

"Where we normally plan for 200 households, we brought enough food for 250 households and we gave it all out within an hour," said Joyner.

Joyner said this trend is happening again as eviction moratoriums and federal unemployment benefits expire across the nation. It's a trend she said she doesn't want to see.

"It's sad when you have an overwhelming demand and particularly when we're out at one of these distributions and we run out of food, I hate to tell people we're out of food," said Joyner. That's something she's had to do. 

A few cars of families showed up as the mobile food pantry was closing up Thursday morning. 

Joyner said while she hates turning people away, she still offers them to come to their other mobile locations or seek assistance at their main distribution center. 

She said they aren't running low on food overall, but the limited number of boxes they bring to the mobile sites do run out quickly.

Joyner said she does expect this trend to continue into the holiday season, but she hopes enough volunteers and donations come around to help them supply families in Hampton Roads.

If you're looking to either volunteer, donate food or learn where the next mobile site is, you can learn more on the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank website.