DUNMORE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — This month marks three years since the start of the covid pandemic.

One local non-profit is reflecting on how its outreach to the community has changed in all that time.

On March 4th, 2020, Meghan Loftus, the CEO and President of Friends of the Poor went into labor early and gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

Just days later she got a call about the cancelation of an annual event due to COVID-19.

“I just had a few days home and resting, and I got a call from the team, and Sister Ann said, ‘it’s just not safe.’”

Loftus and her team jumped into action to help the community, planning a food giveaway.

“The very next day we held our first drive-through giveaway at our warehouse. We thought we’d serve maybe 50 families, but we had almost 200 come.”

Throughout 2020, the non-profit held weekly giveaways, working with its food bank and taking in donations for lines of people in need.

“They were costing $20,000 to $25,000 each. We were serving 1,000 to 2,000 families at each one. You know just, it was quite a lot of effort and without the friends of the poor team, everyone on the staff, it just wouldn’t of happened.”

Fast forward three years, Loftus says food insecurity in NEPA is growing by more than 30%.

“Pre-pandemic, we were serving at most 3,000 individuals a month. Peak pandemic, like April, May, June, it was about 7,500, and right now we’re at 6,300.”

In order to continue helping thousands, the organization is in need of donations and volunteers.

“Whether you’re able to buy a few extra things when you go grocery shopping and donate them, whether you’re able to send $20, any of that helps us in the long run.”

Next month, Friends of the Poor is hosting an Easter food and basket giveaway.

If you would like to donate your time or items for the event, visit their Facebook page.