Lehigh Valley food pantries serve thousands of people even as pandemic dwindles

Written by on July 19, 2021

Lehigh Valley food pantries serve thousands of people even as pandemic dwindles

By Hayden Mitman

July 19, 2021

Photo from 2019 of one of the warehouses at Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania Photo | Courtesy of the Second Harvest Facebook Page.

As businesses reopen and crowds return to area restaurants, there are signs that the community is getting ready to emerge from the pandemic. 

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But local food pantries are still working to overcome historic increases in demand for food assistance. They’re finding that, even as COVID-19 restrictions ease, thousands of people are still in need of assistance.

At the height of the pandemic, Second Harvest, a regional food bank that serves 200 non-profit groups, fed nearly 80,000 people a month. 

Lately, that number is about 60,000, but Briana McGonagle, development manager at Second Harvest, says the level of need fluctuates.

“Some people are bouncing back. It’s kind of like bobbing and weaving now. I think this tells us that things are really unstable,” McGonagle says.  

More troubling, she says, is that they are seeing new families that have not needed support in the past. 

Priscilla Rosado, assistant director of Food Access and Emergency Services for the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, says job loss throughout the community has contributed to this surge. 

“Our food access partners are serving at least 50% more families,” Rosado says.  

Both women say the food banks are currently able to meet demand, but they don’t see need dropping to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. 

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