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As coronavirus spurs job losses, Meridian Food Bank works to fill need

As many in the Treasure Valley find themselves short on work or out of a job entirely amid the spread of coronavirus, more and more people are needing help.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — As many in the Treasure Valley find themselves short on work or out of a job entirely amid the spread of coronavirus, more and more people are needing help to feed themselves and their families.

Area food banks are doing their best to meet the quickly-growing need.

At the Meridian Foodbank, things have been busy: On Monday, 40 cars passed through the food box pickup line in just the first hour-and-a-half it was open. Several of those people were picking up food for more than one household. 

Nearly 370 households - which can range from a single person to a large family - received food supplies last week, according to the Meridian Foodbank, and the demand is going up.

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A long line of cars filled the alley and wrapping around on the street as people waited for the foodbank to open at noon.

Credit: Doug Petcash/KTVB

Of the people served last week, 62 were turning to the foodbank for the very first time. 

Meridian Food Bank Director Dan Clark said the quick growth in demand is something he has not seen in his 20 years at the food bank.

"They know we're here and they're taking advantage of that, and I'm glad to see that," Clark said. "It's important. We're here for a reason, and the reason is to help people out who have food insecurity. Basically it's a situation that's been forced on them, and they're probably having to do things that they're not comfortable doing. We're here to help them and that's what we do."

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Clark said that they currently have enough food to meet the need, but it's going out the door fast, so donations are always welcome. 

The Meridian Food Bank switched to the drive-through system earlier in March to limit contact and protect volunteers and clients. Before that, residents were allowed into the building to pick out their groceries.

The Meridian Food Bank is open Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 6 p.m., and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, or to donate, visit the Meridian Food Bank website here.

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