(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Food insecurity in Northwest Missouri is far from over.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced more families to reach out for help putting food on their tables.
“Within our region actually, we’re seeing about a 54% increase in need of people coming through our mobile pantry sites,” said Michelle Fagerstone, Chief Development Officer for St. Joseph Second Harvest Food Bank.
Thursday morning, Second Harvest saw it's longest line for the food bank. 11 blocks of bumper to bumper traffic along Grand Avenue, wrapping around into Douglas Street.
Second Harvest has seen long lines throughout the pandemic, but those waiting in their cars Thursday morning said those lines have been nothing compared to this.
“No, not at all. We expected a long line, but not this long,” said Cody Martin, food recipient.
Second Harvest said the long lines reflect just how many people in the area continue needing help during this time. The local food bank attributes the growing need to the high unemployment rates.
“We are still averaging a little over 7.5% unemployment rates throughout our entire region which of course is 15 counties in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas,” said Fagerstone.
Those waiting in their cars come from all over Northwest Missouri, looking to get what they can.
“We’re from a northern county. We used our food pantry up by us, but we came down here to just help us survive, ma’am,” said Martin.
The local food bank said they don't know what the future holds, but they do anticipate the long lines to stick around.
“You know, the long lines is a question we ask every single day. How long is this gonna last? Predictions say it could be into 2022 before we see things go back to pre-pandemic times. We’re really at a loss as to what’s gonna happen,” said Fagerstone.
While the sea of cars looks daunting, those waiting in line say the wait is more than worth it.
“Three or four more hours, but it’s food to help me survive ma’am,” said Martin.
Second Harvest's Mega Mobile food drives are open to the public, no income guidelines are required.