NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Food insecurity in our area has increased immensely due to the pandemic.

In response, organizations are holding more events aimed at getting food into the hands of those who need it the most, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported.

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People who came to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on Friday morning were given two boxes of food, containing things like cabbage, carrots, baked pita chips and bags of black beans.

“Shelf stable items. Those tend to be things like rice, pasta, some canned goods,” Richard Espinal of Catholic Charities said. “We’re also giving out fresh produce. We want to make sure that we’re giving people healthy food and not just stuff that’s canned.”

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“We provide a family of four a meal for a week,” said Catherine Scalera from the church.

The food is a godsend for many.

“This really helps,” one recipient said. “Very healthy because I like the fruits and vegetables. That’s very good and I really need them.”

“It’s sad. It’s astronomical in terms of the need that’s out there,” Espinal said. “Back in September, Catholic Charities distributed its one millionth meal during the pandemic.”

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Catholic Charities doesn’t normally do “pop up” pantries, but it recognized more people were in need of food.

They expected to give away several hundred boxes of food at Friday’s event.

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Some people experiencing food insecurity are getting help for the first time.

“It’s definitely put a lot of pressure. You’re out of work and you don’t have money coming in. So, just being able to have this food is a really big help,” said one woman who lost her job during the pandemic. “I don’t know how I would get by without it, really.”

“The reality is that this pandemic has impacted across demographics. You know, a lot of folks who, maybe before this pandemic started, would never have thought they’d need to be on a food pantry line,” Espinal said.

They’re urging people in need to come out to these events.

No judgement. Just food.

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Alice Gainer