The Food Bank of Delaware says that number of families picking up food at its monthly drive-thru mobile pantries has dropped in half since January’s round.
The numbers have dropped so steadily that after the July round, the Food Bank will re-evaluate whether to continue them.
The mobile pantries started in all three counties right after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring 2020 and tens of thousands of Delawareans lost their jobs. Even into January 2021, they were serving as many as 1,400 families at a single county site.
Last month, though, about 700 people took advantage of the drive-thru in their county, said Kim Turner, spokeswoman for the Food Bank.
“Numbers are dropping, which we are happy to see,” she said. “We are planning to hold the monthly distributions through July and then we will re-evaluate.”
As the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are dropping and the number of those vacacinated has risen, restrictions have changed and many businesses are operating more fully. Restaurants are allowed to bring more people inside, movie theaters are opening and travel and rental agencies say business is hopping.
With businesses complaining they can’t find people to fill jobs, and many blaming it partly on high unemployment payments, Gov. John Carney has told the Delaware Department of Labor to reinstitute the requirement that someone on unemployment must prove that they have looked for a job in order to stay on unemployment.
Many businesses are offering signing bonuses and more. The Delaware Restaurant Association — hardest hit by pandemic layoffs — has started a service that matches workers to restaurant jobs.
All of that may add up to more opportunities for jobs, fewer people on unemployment and fewer people in line for help with food.
Here’s what the Food Bank’s site breakdown looked like in 2021:
January: Kent County, 1,000 (food ran out and was upped for next events); New Castle County, 1,234; Sussex Coun ty, 1,356.
March: Sussex, 1,109; Kent, 1,264; New Castle, 1,109.
April: Sussex, 827; Kent, 840; New Castle, 613.
May: Sussex, 700; Kent, 771; New Castle, 649.
February’s pantries were snowed out.
June’s mobile pantries will be the week of Monday, June 7.
The Sussex County event at Crossroad Community Church in Georgetown will start at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 7. Register in advance here.
The Kent County site will be at Dover International Speedway in Dover starting at 11 a.m, Wednesday, June 9. Register in advance here.
The New Castle County site will at Frawley Stadium and start at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 11. Register in advance here.
The Food Bank will be prepared to serve up to 1,000 households at each pantry. While drive-up is available, receipients are asked to register and bring proof of ID and that they live in Delaware t to receive assistance.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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