'The need has doubled': North Bay food bank tries to keep up with huge demand before Thanksgiving

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, Bay Area food banks are finding themselves in need of donations and volunteers to keep up with demand.

In the North Bay, the pandemic has increased food insecurity for many families, but a local food bank is doing what it can to deliver.

It's one way they are helping to Build a Better Bay Area.

Volunteers were braving the rain Friday, collecting all the food they could at a drive-thru donation event at Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa.

Janice Mazlin dropped off several bags of groceries.

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"This time of year, especially with the pandemic, it's even more important," said Mazlin.

Food insecurity has more than doubled in Sonoma County.

During a normal year, the food bank would serve about 11 million meals.

"This time this year, we're at 22 million meals, it's incredible how much the need has increased," said Rachelle Mesheau from Redwood Empire Food Bank.

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It's one reason why volunteers are working extra shifts outside under a tent, boxing up meals for those in need.

"We've got COVID and people have lost jobs and need food and the fires. We're still serving fire victims," said the food bank's Don Nolan.

But collecting food donations has been challenging.

Normally collection barrels would be out in the community but with COVID-19 restrictions, they're stacked in a warehouse, empty.

RELATED: 'Times are tough': Residents flock to pop-up food bank in Santa Rosa amid COVID-19 crisis

But somehow, this food bank is making it work with donation drives and financial help from the community.

"We wouldn't be able to keep up if it wasn't for generous support of community, we thank them," said Mesheau.

If you would like to help or volunteer at the Redwood Empire Food Bank click here.

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos here.


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