WOODLAND, Calif. - Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, there's an ever-growing need to help the hungry.
“I get social security,” Flores said. “It’s hard making ends meet."
In a line that wrapped around the massive Yolo County Fairgrounds, Flores said everyone has a story worth sharing. Local food banks help her and thousands of others get by each week. Single dad, Jose Orozco, has a lot on his plate already. He cares for his daughters and his retired mother.
“She can barely walk," Orozco said. "This helps with whatever she can get.”
Demand at food banks have sky-rocketed amid the pandemic and raging wildfires in Northern California. At one of the smaller local food banks in town, the River City Food Bank in Sacramento, the need has increased 30% as they serve more than 4,000 people each week.
“We need help more than ever,” said Amanda McCarthy, the executive director of the food bank. “It’s critical we have the help we need on a consistent basis.”
She said the number of volunteers has dropped. Many regular volunteers are older and more at-risk, and are in turn, more selective of where they choose to spend their time. Others have returned to work, or may be at home with their kids.
Fewer volunteers adds further strain to an already large hunger gap seen in communities across the country.
“People are having to make these choices, these impossible choices,” McCarthy said. “Like buying food or paying rent, childcare – and no one should have to make those choices.”
Local food banks are pleading with the public to donate some time or goods this holiday season. The smallest gesture could be life-changing for people like Flores or Orozco.
Want to make a difference in the fight against hunger? Find a location near you.
This story was originally published on CBS13's website.