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How to help area food banks feed families through WNEP’s Special Edition of Feed A Friend

WNEP’s Feed A Friend program that normally helps people around Thanksgiving time has relaunched to help huge hubs that distribute to hundreds of area food pantries.

Many people in our area, who never had to ask for help before, are now forced to turn to food banks because of this pandemic.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey spotlighted the need on Tuesday and showed how you can help put food on the table for families in our area by donating here to a special edition of WNEP's Feed A Friend Program. 

You can also find a list of where to find free food at this link.

RELATED: Feed A Friend Special Edition project

Usually, our Feed-a-Friend campaign is a food drive that happens only around Thanksgiving. However, the News Station relaunched a special springtime edition because of the tremendous demand. 

The goal of the campaign is to help fill a need at places, including CEO Weinberg Food Bank in the Pittston area and many other distribution locations in our area. It's a need that's larger than ever, and it's not going to away anytime soon. 

Four major food banks that serve Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania are almost always busy providing meals, but now that need for food is much greater than ever.

"The COVID-19 crisis is impacting us. It's impacting our community, our network. The pantry is feeding more people than ever before. Prices of food have skyrocketed," said Briana McGonagle with Second Harvest Food Bank.

"In a typical year, we will purchase about four hundred thousand dollars worth of food. In April of 2020, we purchased over a half a million dollars worth of food," Jay Worrall of Helping Harvest Food Bank said. 

With so many people out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, families who never had to ask for help before are now turning to food banks.

"These are families now that exhausted their credit cards, used their nest egg, and are struggling to make sure that they have food on the table for their families. So that's what we're seeing every day," Gene Brady with CEO Weinberg Food Bank said. 

And others agree.

"Our estimate is an additional 25 to 30 percent of people. We're providing more food, so that's up over 50 percent," Joe Arthur with Central PA Food Bank said.  

Here's what they really need.

"Honestly, our biggest need right now are financial donations. So product donations, donations of canned goods and spaghetti, and things like that are really helpful to us in normal times. But we're so busy right now that it really helps us to be able to get financial donations so that we can buy food at scale, pack it and distribute it as efficiently as possible," Jay Worrall with Helping Harvest Food Bank said. 

Your financial donations will go a long way in helping meet a need that's not expected to go away anytime soon.

"The new normal is going to be something different. A lot of restaurants have been closed and have fewer workers. So we see this, unfortunately, going on for some time," Gene Brady with CEO Weinberg Food Bank said. 

"We are going to see this economic disaster continue for many months and possibly beyond 2020. That's our view. So we've geared up for that kind of a longer-term crisis," Joe Arthur with Central PA Food Bank said.

It's a crisis that can be eased through your donations and by the selfless work of the volunteers serving on the frontlines.

"The volunteers on the ground who are providing the food to people are still at it, and they are committed. And it's it's very touching," Briana McGonagle with Second Harvest Food Bank said.