Food pantry demand up sharply across Kansas due to virus

Donations are down

Generic food pantry

WICHITA, Kan. – Operators of food assistance programs across Kansas are serving hundreds of additional families that are struggling financially due to the fallout from the coronavirus.

The increased need comes at a time when donations are down, Kansas Food Bank CEO Brian Walker told the Wichita Eagle.

The food bank last week began surveying 164 partner agencies across the state. The 104 responses as of Tuesday indicated a roughly 30% increase in need due to the pandemic.

Walker believes the need isn’t going away anytime soon, even as businesses begin operating again and some employees return to work.

“We don’t want people to think because the economy has opened back up and you can go to a restaurant that, you know, everybody is going back to work and people aren’t going to need assistance. That’s just not the case,” Walker said.

Other food assistance programs also are struggling. In March, Catholic Charities Our Daily Bread Food Pantry reported a 36% increase in households served. United Methodist Open Door went from serving an average of 1,900 families a month in 2019 to 2,265 in March.

The number of confirmed and probable cases in Kansas climbed by 410 on Thursday, to 6,144, though the actual number of cases is thought to be higher because of limited testing and because people can be infected without feeling ill.

Kansas’ COVID-19 death toll rose by three, to 147, according to the state’s count.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.