For almost 40 years, Feed My People has provided St. Louis' neediest with groceries and supplies. Now, they're asking for help.
The organization has struggled to meet a rising demand for food and personal supplies. They’ve seen a 30 percent uptick in demand at their food banks.
“The community is facing an unprecedented need,” says Karen Lanter, Feed My People’s executive director. “We’ve noticed individuals who had previously been clients and became independent have had to come back.”
According to data compiled by the Missouri Spatial Data Information Service, St. Louis city and county have had more than 80,000 unemployment claims related to COVID-19.
In her nearly four years as a volunteer at Feed My People, Julie Mangels says she’s never seen so much need. An influx of people come in every day hoping to get food.
“That is the one most important thing and, dare I say, toilet paper,” Mangels says.
Though Feed My People is running low on supplies, it’s not just food the organization needs. It’s cash.
Feed My People had to cancel fundraising events such as its trivia night that would’ve happened last weekend. Its two thrift stores — one in High Ridge and another in south county — closed because they weren’t essential businesses. The stores were a huge part of what helped keep Feed My People’s doors open, Lanter says.
But she’s determined to keep the food services going.
In the past few weeks, Feed My People ramped up its safety precautions. All workers and volunteers wear masks, stay at least six feet away from each other and wear gloves. They used to spend at least fifteen to twenty minutes talking to patrons who arrived for food and supplies. Now, all communication is muzzled through a barrier of double glass doors.
Workers and volunteers deliver the food to clients' cars in grocery carts to avoid person-to-person contact. Altogether, Feed My People serves about 375 families a week.
The organization has a staff of seventeen people and a group that Lanter describes as a “hearty” bunch of volunteers.
Feed My People accepts donations of food and personal supplies at both of its locations from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They’re in “urgent” need of nonperishable foods, including canned meats, vegetables and fruits, cereals, powdered milk, peanut butter, jelly, pasta products, rice and beans. They’ve also had a run on toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap and deodorant. Go to feed-my-people.org for more info on how to donate or volunteer.