Channel One Regional Food Bank sees record numbers ahead of holidays

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(ABC 6 News) – Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester has food available for those in need after last week’s storm when tornados ripped through small towns in the middle of December.

"We got a lot of calls last week and early this week from people specifically in Stewartville who lost power had to throw away a lot of their food that was in the refrigerators and freezers and that’s just devastating especially right before the holidays when a lot of that could have been their holiday meals," Jessica Sund, Director of Development and Communications at Channel One Regional Food Bank, said.

On top of the storms last week, there is an increased need for food with the holiday season.

Sund says Channel One had record numbers in the food shelf going into Thanksgiving this year. The food shelf typically sees about 4,000 households every month, but it saw 1,000 households in just the three days leading up to Thanksgving.

"Because we see an increase in visits during the holidays, we definitely prepare for that. Everything that’s really a staple to make those meaningful holiday meals," Sund said.

This year, the need is there more than ever.

"It’s a lot of reasons. Of course, the pandemic is still affecting people. But there’s also the matter of a whole lot of supply chain issues and inflation which is greatly affecting people’s grocery bills and things that they could maybe afford previously, they’re needing a little extra help with those staples," she said.

Sund said a lot of people in the U.S. are only $400 away from poverty or a financial emergency. Channel One is here to help with that.

"There’s a lot of individuals who fall in between that area of being able to qualify for SNAP and then being able to cover their bills and their grocery items. We’re there for everyone," Sund said.

Aubrey, a single mom from the Rochester area, has four kids. While taking care of her children on her own, she began to see she couldn’t pay bills and buy groceries. Hunger hit her home. She told Channel One "When you have kids and can’t afford food because of the bills, that isn’t something that leaves your memories."

"So many holiday memories and traditions are surrounded with food. It’s the basis for a lot of family gatherings and togetherness and again memories. We just really try to make sure that we consider every household and everyone in the Rochester population to make sure they’re having access to those foods that make meaningful meals to them," Sund said.

If you’re a family or a household who has been blessed this holiday season and you want to give back, the best way to do so is a monetary donation to Channel One. You can also give the gift of time, as volunteers are always needed at Channel One.