By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Food insecurity became a hallmark of 2020 due to economic uncertainty amid COVID-19, and the head of Yukon’s largest food bank fears it won’t subside in 2021.
“The last four months, we’ve had over 200 new clients,” Yukon Manna Pantry Director Sherri Rogers said. “And we’re seeing a lot that we haven’t seen in years come back after losing jobs. We saw a big uptick when the stimulus money and food stamps ran out.
“I think 2021 will be as busy as we are now – maybe even more so. I don’t see the needs diminishing right now.”
Manna Pantry, 123 S 6th, is an emergency food cupboard that feeds hungry people in Yukon (73099 zip code), Piedmont (73078 zip code) and Yukon Public Schools.
Food recipients must meet federal guidelines.
The pantry director believes food insecurity isn’t going away anytime soon with more people out of work as businesses down-size.
“I think we’re going to continue to see it,” Rogers said.
“For a while, companies were keeping employees on but now they’re seeing they just can’t sustain it.
“We’re seeing the second wave of layoffs, and I think that will continue until the COVID numbers start going down.”
A second federal stimulus package “will help some,” Rogers added, “but people still have to eat.”
Manna Pantry served more than 3,000 families in 2020 – with some 500 new clients.
Manna Pantry celebrated its 45th year in 2020 and has been able to keep up with the higher demand for food through the public’s generosity.
“They’ve just been phenomenal,” Rogers said. “We get calls and messages every day asking, ‘What do you need … what don’t you have … what can I do?’”
The need became more apparent when the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive – which typically generates 25,000-30,000 pounds of food – was canceled due to COVID-19.
Eight local grocery retailers donate to Manna Pantry and people frequently leave food on the front porch to help their neighbors.
The Regional Food Bank also makes regular deliveries to help stock the shelves.
Yukon’s community food pantry now has nearly 200 dedicated volunteers but could always use more since there are seven shifts per week to be covered. The volunteer base is down due to the virus and recent rise in positive cases.
Those who give of their time are deeply appreciated since Manna Pantry is an all-volunteer service ministry with no paid staff.
“I have an ‘army’ of wonderful volunteers,” Rogers said.
“They have really stepped up.”
Manna Pantry is open for food distribution six days a week: Sunday from 6-7 p.m., Monday from 6-7 p.m., Tuesday from 2-3 p.m., Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. and 6-7 p.m., Thursday from 6-7 p.m., and Friday from 6-7 p.m.
Learn more by calling 265-0193 or visiting http://www.mannapantryyukon.org