“We actually send bagels to the community for people in need, so we drive on the streets … The slightest help from the community and everyone who comes together is very helpful,” said Amber Larson, acting commander with the Community Engagement Unit with Police Department Paul. “Everyone is struggling now and we all need to unite, as a team, and make sure we take care of people who need something.”
Larson added that they had distributed more than 8,000 bagels during the week.
Stacie Bellovich said she has no home at the moment. KSTP met with him when he got food from YMCA Midway through his partnership with Loaves and Fishes.
“This is how we eat, every day. So, on weekends it is even more difficult, but we succeed and try to save what we can,” Bellovich said.
“We see a record number of people coming through our door,” said Cathy Maes, executive director of Loaves and Fishes.
They went from serving 3,500 meals per day to around 12,000. This also increased from 37 food locations to 57 during the pandemic.
The need was so deep, one of his partners ran out of food at the Maplewood location.
“The needs in the city seem extraordinary, and D’Amico Catering came in and said, ‘We will help cook’ and have brought extra food for them,” Maes said.
Maes said he attributed some increased food needs to people who lost their jobs or were on leave and lost their salaries.
“Oh, that’s for sure. Our coordinator has the ability to chat with guests as they pass and they see people who have never asked for help before,” he said.
Therefore, Loaves and Fishes became creative, starting to take door drive-ups at places like Hope and at Aitkin’s eating places out there.
“The drive-thru method might inform our work moving forward. There is a level of anonymity,” Maes said.
Second Harvest Heartland said that he also experienced a change, and it had never happened before. CEO Allison O’Toole said, “We hear a huge increase in demand.”
Challenges have been created through it all.
“Sometimes it’s very difficult to ask for help, and so many new people have to ask for help … We see so many new faces, and I speak on behalf of this entire network when I say that,” O ‘Toole said. “I just want to emphasize that everyone is welcome.”
O’Toole added that they saw a record number of people registering SNAP because of COVID-19.
“And we predict that it will only grow,” he explained.
City of St. Paul too plans to expand food distribution to families in need.
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