TAMPA, Fla. — Many unemployed Floridians continue to be in need of help from food pantries and non-profit organizations.

What You Need To Know

But how are food pantries handling the increased demand?

Officials at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa said they are helping six times the number of people they used to help before the pandemic. 

And they don't see any end in sight.

"The need is not slowing down," said Justine Burke with Metropolitan Ministries.

Burke spoke while working outside at a food box distribution drive thru. 

Metropolitan Ministries moved its food pantry outside when the coronavirus first became a problem and now this is business as usual.


Cars come through as masked volunteers hand out food boxes. When things first shut down, the line of cars would stretch six blocks, Burke said.

Fast forward to now - businesses are slowly opening back up but the need is not slowing down.

Burke said many people are asking for help for the first time ever, and while they may have had enough saved up for a month or two, those reserves are running out. 

"The people we serve, we're just in the beginning stages of the needs that are coming." Burke said. "So the top needs are food and financial assistance to help people who are out of work to pay their rent to pay their mortgage to pay their bills." 

The St. Petersburg Free Clinic in Pinellas County also converted its food pantry into a drive-thru due to COVID-19.  In the month of April, they served 18,000 people, compared to only about 6,000 in February, and they said things aren't slowing down.

"This COVID crisis has really highlighted the great food insecurity that we're seeing​ in St Pete that we knew was there, but has really been exacerbated by the COVID crisis- by loss of employment, loss of wages and just people having been one or two paychecks away from real financial crisis, and now with this hit we're seeing food is their top priority," said Jennifer Yeagley, St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

Both Metropolitan Ministries and the St. Petersburg Free Clinic said it's thanks to generous donors that they're able to keep up with the demand. 

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