By Michael Pineda
The height of the COVID pandemic has fallen into the rear-view mirror, but the need for assistance has not dissipated.
It has significantly grown.
Less than two weeks into the month of August, Yukon Sharing had recorded 200 people seeking assistance. Executive Director Missy King said the non-profit is averaging 500 or more people a month.
“We are just swamped,” she said. “When I came here three years ago, if we served 100 in a month, people were excited. Don’t ask me why, they just were.”
The biggest needs are for food and rent or utility assistance. King said Yukon Sharing has received a lot of calls for financial assistance. Work is taking place to bridge that gap through a grant. King said she does not know how much financial assistance will be awarded to help those in need.
“People are strapped,” she said. “We are so excited we have produce that we can give out because produce is so high, and meat is so high. We are really seeing an increase in people that are needing help.
“I was just talking to someone, they asked me what I thought. About 30% of our people that we are seeing are new people needing help. They have never been to us, ever.
“That is not to say they have not been anywhere else. They have just not been to us. A lot of them come in and they say, ‘I have never had to ask for help before.’
“Those are the kind of people that are usually fairly upset when they are here because they don’t want to be here. And they have never had to ask for help. We work doubly hard to make them feel comfortable.”
Reasons for the increase range from lost jobs to people being unable to work due to illness. King said a lot of people do not offer a reason. An additional avenue of aid comes through clothing. Yukon Sharing has an ample amount of clothing available to those in need. Despite the start of school, King said not many people have taken advantage of that opportunity.
“We are fairly generous with what we give, we make sure people at least have stuff for a week worth of clothes,” King said. “It’s not like say, you have only have one thing when you come in.”
King said Yukon Sharing also has little problem getting food. While the offerings may differ from month-to-month, she said there is enough to meet demand.
Last month, King said ground beef was available but this month, the main protein is canned chicken. Yukon Sharing did receive a pallet of vegetables and fruit, which is not a monthly occurrence. Walmart also donates once a week, which has been a blessing to Yukon Sharing.
“I can order more food from the food bank,” she said. “It just depends on what they have that you can order. We do have that ability. If we can’t get stuff from the food bank, we can go out and have to go to the stores like everybody else and purchase stuff.”
King said the numbers of people are not what she expected and admits to being somewhat naive about things getting back to normal after COVID. As it has materialized, that has not been the case. King said from her understanding, Manna Pantry has also been very busy as well.
“I know it’s never going to be over, I understand that,” King said. “But after the two-year shutdown, we have all kind of (gone) back to our life. They talk about unemployment is low and people are going back to work. But I am not seeing it here with the number of people. But we are also in that three-year span that I have been here, people know where we are a whole lot more than before I came. People know that we are here, we are viable, and we will help.”