Harsh weather increases demand on food bank

From frozen pipes to snowed-in roads, people in the Upper Peninsula have been affected by the harsh winter in numerous ways. One effect of the cold and snow that may not be as immediately apparent is the demand for food assistance.

The Ishpeming location of the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank has seen a dramatic increase in demand for food this year when compared to previous years. The food bank primarily distributes food to agencies across the Central U.P., and it is currently shipping out between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds a day. In addition, biweekly food pantry days held at the facility have seen a dramatic increase in visitors.

“Demand has been super high right now. Very high,” said Branch Manager Dave Mason. “Increased demand on heat bills, gasoline prices, everything has added to a lot of food instability.”

The Ishpeming food bank has maintained a large enough food supply through Feeding America, but having enough hands on deck to help manage and distribute food is a problem.

“It’s difficult to keep up with it at this point,” Mason added. “We’re really feeling a major strain in just keeping up with the demand, just from a pure manpower standpoint, finding enough volunteers to help us keep everybody happy. It’s difficult.”

Residents looking to help the food bank by volunteering time or donating can find out more about the organization at their website or by calling (906) 485-4988. Those in need of food assistance are also encouraged to call the food bank or stop by.