WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Food insecurity is a serious issue that impacts hundreds of thousands in NEPA. That number has increased since the pandemic began earlier this year.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has been overwhelmed with demand due to COVID-19.

Jeremy Person, warehouse associate at Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, told Eyewitness News, “It was a tidal wave when the pandemic hit. It was amazing how busy we were. We got so many donations in, but we even got more food out of here. More than we thought possible!”

The increased need isn’t only because of the pandemic. The summer months always bring in more families due to students not being in school and receiving meals.

For the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, that means distributing even more than other times of the year.

“This summer, especially, a lot of summer camps have been closed. We are fortunate to have a lot of partners who are open, not only making sure children but the whole family has access to reliable nutritious food,” said Carla Fisher, communication and marketing coordinator with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

Those who receive food from the food bank are happy to have the support they need during tough times.

“The food bank, knowing that they’re here for me and the hundreds of others in need, is really a good feeling. I mean so many people are struggling and need the help,” said Jenaine Vitali, a food bank recipient.

The pandemic has shown food insecurity can can impact people from all walks of life.

“We’re here for anyone. That’s a really big important key,” said Fisher. “Really, COVID shined a light on that. Hunger isn’t selective, it can happen to anyone, young, old, employed, unemployed… Anytime in their life.”

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves 27 different counties. And they want everyone to know it’s vital to reach out for help if you need it.

“Asking for help can be very humbling, very scary, but you know that’s what we’re here for. Everyone might need help at some point in their life,” Fisher said.

If you are able to, local food banks such as Central Pennsylvania Food Bank are always looking for donations so they can continue to serve our local community.