Local food bank RIC-Rack is struggling to feed hundreds of Dawson County families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to non-profit leadership, RIC-Rack currently feeds over 400 families, a number which has increased drastically since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Out of our current number of families, 67 are new since mid-March,” said RIC-Rack general manager Angela Mckinzie. “We’re up to 435 families right now and we’re only part of the way through the month.”
In order to feed all of the families they serve, RIC-Rack relies on donations from the community and from businesses they are in partnership with. But with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, donations from local businesses have grown smaller and smaller.
“We pick up at Walmart and we pick up at Publix, but when everybody’s going into Walmart buying everything, that’s just less that they’re able to give,” Mckinzie said. “Which I’m okay with people going shopping and buying all the stuff, that’s fine, but it’s affecting us negatively. And I don’t blame Walmart for that or anybody shopping at Walmart, but it’s a trickle-down effect.”
Because of the smaller amount of donations coupled with the growing number of families on the food bank roll, RIC-Rack has had to cut back on the amount of food they are able to give.
“We have had to cut back on what we can give to people, not drastically, but we have as far as some of the dry weights and things like that,” Mckinzie said. “People get used to things being a certain way, so say you came in February and we gave you 100 pounds of food and then you came in April because we’re not getting as much and we can only give you, say, 50 pounds, then that’s disappointing and we don’t like that. It makes us feel bad.”
Any donations from the community will be a huge help to the food bank, Mckinzie said, this includes not only food and monetary donations but other items like paper and hygiene products too.
“We can take any dry goods, canned goods, paper products and hygiene products - that’s a big one right now because a lot of people are scared to walk into a Dollar Tree right now and buy things and they don’t have the money for it,” Mckinzie said. “So, we’re getting a lot of requests for things like shampoo, toilet paper and paper towels.”
RIC-Rack employees are being careful to practice proper social distancing precautions, both in feeding families and accepting donations from the community. The food bank is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. for both drop-offs and pick-ups.
“We’re not allowing anyone inside, so we stay where we can see anybody that pulls up,” Mckinzie said. “I’ll go out and ask if they’re here for pickup or drop-off, and then I’ll bring it in the building or go get it for them.”
Due to unemployment and lower incomes because of the virus, the food bank expects to continue adding families to the roll, Mckinzie said.
“So many have been laid off, out of work or working very part-time - I mean, even for myself I went from working 40 hours to working 12,” she said. “So, we’re all feeling the pressure and still trying to get everybody taken care of. Based on numbers I’m thinking we’re probably going to add another 100 families to the roll before this is over, just because unemployment is high and things of that nature.”
For any families in need of the food bank’s assistance, all that is required is a photo ID.
“You just need to come in with an ID showing you live in Dawson County and we go from there,” Mckinzie said.
Because of the still-growing number of families RIC-Rack is serving, community support makes a huge difference.
“There’s an across-the-board demand for everything,” Mckinzie said, “and we’re only working with what we’ve got so the incoming donations are huge."
For monetary donations, you can send a check to P.O. Box 891. Food, paper products or hygiene product donations can be dropped off at RIC-Rack, 829 Hwy 9 N between noon and 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays.