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Meal demand spiking: Newport News organizations work together to fight food insecurity

Find out where you can get three free, hot meals a week, no questions asked.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Hampton Roads nonprofits are already seeing high demand and bracing for it to get worse as food insecurity rises. Leaders at THRIVE Peninsula, a Newport News nonprofit, said they’re busy trying to meet the need for a hot meal.

A lot of hands come together each week to make sure people in Newport News can eat.

“Taking this opportunity to come alongside people and stand in the gap,” said The Ezer Initiative Executive Director Kecia St. Clair.

St. Clair helps THRIVE Peninsula deliver some hot meals. She comes by three times a week to take food to people in need. Her ministry, The Ezer Initiative, connects her to them.

“With COVID, I think a lot more people know that a lot of us are struggling, that a lot of us have needs,” St. Clair said.

Ten other groups help deliver citywide.

“Meals are being distributed to senior communities, low-income neighborhoods, people through churches, just lots of people who are food insecure,” said THRIVE Executive Director Angela York.

York said they give out 880 meals a week, no strings attached.

“We don’t check IDs, we don’t ask for any paperwork,” York said. “You just drive up, get a meal, and enjoy it.”

It’s fueled by the City of Newport News and World Central Kitchen.

York said her team saw a lull over the summer, but recently the demand for food is spiking.

“We are expecting things to actually get much worse beginning in January and February if there is not another stimulus,” York said. “Families are really going to be struggling without the extra support.”

COVID has put many people in a place they’ve never been to before.

“Some of us are just one paycheck away from needing to get a meal,” St. Clair said.

She hopes more groups chime in to show people that food insecurity is not something to hide.

"We just get to give them a little bit of hope and sometimes that is just showing up with a meal,” St. Clair said. “I think it does more for me than anyone that we get to serve.”

Hot meals are ready to go here at THRIVE every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the end of December. This excludes the Friday after Thanksgiving. They are located at 13195 Warwick Boulevard.

Pick up times are listed on THRIVE’s website.