WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — September is “National Hunger Action Month” and a local organization says the need to feed has increased since the pandemic.

Food insecurity is something that affects people from all backgrounds. This month, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is spreading awareness in an effort to end hunger in our communities.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions around hunger. I think the big one is that it can’t happen to you,” said community engagement associate of the Central PA Food Bank Ryan Prater.

Nearly 12% of Lycoming County residents are facing food insecurity according to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. This includes more than at least 1 out of every 7 children.

For many, they’re just one paycheck away from worrying about their next meal.

“It’s a choice between critical needs, food or housing, food or childcare, food or utilities,” said Carla Fisher who is the Marketing and Communication Coordinator for the Central PA Food Bank.

Hunger has been an ongoing issue for decades, and since the pandemic, the need has grown.

“The biggest thing we’ve seen in the pandemic. 40% of people that have needed food assistance have been first-time users. The first time they’ve ever had to come to a food pantry or seek assistance,” said Prater.

“It really just showed how vulnerable we all are,” said Fisher.

September is national hunger action month and during national hunger action month, the central pa food bank is encouraging the community to get educated and do their part.

“Advocate for public policies that will help end hunger, that will address root causes of poverty and hunger. So really speak up and put the action in hunger action month,” said Prater.

For more information on how you can help, visit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank website.