VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Officials and volunteers with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore expected to serve free boxes of food for up to 2,000 households at a recent food distribution event in Virginia Beach.
However, that didn't happen: they actually served 2,84 households.
The food bank said its previous record was 1,718 back in June of 2021. It's a need that seems to keep growing and volunteers and food bank workers spend several hours handing out boxes at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater parking lot.
“There's a lot of people out here who are really appreciative of being able to come and get food for their families," said volunteer Lauren Goodwin.
Many people came out to get free boxes of food for their families.
“Gas is skyrocketing, prices out of control. So everything is taken into consideration that we receive and we appreciate the time, the effort, the sweat, and tears... everything that they are doing to help us," said Virginia Beach resident Belinda Wyche.
Food bank president and CEO Christopher Tan said he met many people who came for help for the very first time.
“Probably 75% of the people I talked to have not been to a food bank in over a year," said Tan.
He said an increase in food costs and inflation has caused more people to ask for help.
“Inflation has had a dramatic impact. You know, food costs have increased about 13% in the last 60 days, which is kind of crazy. So families that may not have ever had to use a food bank before may need to use it to supplement their already tight grocery budgets," said Tan.
“Oh, it’s going to help my family tremendously because everything has gone up in the stores and we need some more food," said recipient Shirley Felton.
Officials with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore said over the past three years, they received $5 million from the City of Virginia Beach’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to help people struggling with food insecurity.
Officials say the next food distribution event in Virginia Beach is scheduled for December.
The food bank has food pantries across Hampton Roads that people can go to on a weekly basis.