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East County Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020 2 months ago

Food demands rise in Manatee County

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Meals on Wheels Plus seeks community support to meet the growing need.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Maribeth Phillips, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee, is worried the number of those who need food during the coronavirus threat still could go up significantly.

Phillips said Meals on Wheels Plus, which operates The Food Bank of Manatee, already has seen an “uptick” in the number of food pantries coming to the food bank for assistance. The nonprofit is also providing more hot meals than before through its Meals on Wheels home delivery program.

“We are anticipating, with more people self-isolating, that the need for home-delivered meals is going to rise,” Phillips said. “What we really need is food and monetary donations to buy food.”

The agency also has expanded a partnership with the School District of Manatee County. The school district is providing lunches at select churches on weekdays for children who normally would receive food at school, while Meals on Wheels Plus is providing weekend bags of food for families of five, as it normally does during the summer months.

Phillips said Meals on Wheels Plus delivered 300 weekend bags of food March 20 and was projecting 500 bags for March 27.

She does not know how long the agency will see an increased demand for services but asked community members to consider clearing out their pantries, holding food drives or making other donations.

“We’re in unchartered territory right now,” Phillips said. “It’s tough on everyone, but we all need to have food, especially our seniors who are by themselves and children who don’t have access to food at school.”

Phillips said currently there are enough drivers for the Meals on Wheels program, but that could change quickly. Anyone interested in delivering meals or to participate in other programs are encouraged to apply online at MealsOnWheelsPlus.org.

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