Long lines have become a staple at many food pantries since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Tri-Area Ministry has shifted to a drive-thru service to help maintain social distancing and meet the growing need for food for families in northern Wake County. Despite all the hardships faced this year, Tri-Area Ministry has seen that the families that need help often only need it for a few months.
“We analyzed just to see whether the folks that we were feeding are going to be with us a long period of time or whether it’s more transitional, and what we found is that families tend to come and see us two, three, four times and then stop,” says Mike Burger, the board chair of Tri-Area Ministry.
Roughly 30 percent of families each month are first time recipients from Tri-Area Ministry. That is three times the amount of first time families from before the pandemic. In November, Tri-Area Ministry served double the families they did prior to March. However, they also are serving almost double the food to families in need.
“Even though we have seen an increase in the number of families we’re feeding, we also have been able to increase the amount of food that we’re able to distribute to each,” says Burger. “So we used to average around 65 or 70 pounds, and now we are at about 100 pounds.”
The ability to give more has come from the generosity of the community. Roughly 3/4 of the families they serve each month have a Wake Forest address. Wake Forest United Methodist Church, just one of their many community partners, got creative to keep the shelves stocked.
“Church always collects food for Tri-Area Ministry, and when COVID hit, we had to think of ways to continue that because our doors aren’t open. We still wanted to be able to collect food, so we started a drive-thru food drive,” explains Amanda Murtha, a member of Wake Forest United Methodist Church.
The greatest need for food comes in February and March when food donations typically slow after the holiday season. For more information on how you can donate, click here.