With now more than 26 million people unemployed throughout the nation, and that number expected to increase, food pantries throughout the United States have seen demand for their services increase exponentially in recent weeks, and that has certainly been the case in Cuba.
“We’ve seen a large increase in new clients this past month, many stating they had recently been laid off with an undetermined return to work date,” said Cuba Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry Administrator Linda Plank. “Some had stated they have been attempting to apply for unemployment, without any luck though as the phone lines are always busy.”
The Food Pantry, which is located at 302 W. Spencer Street, remains open during its normal hours: 8 a.m. to noon and 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays. It is also holding its regular monthly mobile market at Hood Park on the third Tuesday of the month. If the local need increases, a second mobile market could be added.
At the pantry, clients are being asked to remain in their vehicles and are being served at the side door on Filmore Street, with volunteers placing food in the trunk or cargo area of vehicles. The same is being done at the mobile market. Volunteers are all wearing gloves and some are also wearing masks.
“We are generally open longer as it takes longer to serve clients by serving them outside,” Plank said.
The expanded demand on the Food Pantry means the facility could use all types of donations right now. Food and money would both be helpful, said Plank.
“With the pandemic, the packing houses are closed and food banks are not receiving their normal contributions of meat from suppliers,” Plank added. “For the month of April, we received only about 15 whole chickens for our monthly commodity distribution. That is very unusual.”
A couple of Food Pantry volunteers have made hand-sewn masks for all the volunteers to use and the facility also received large bottles of hand sanitizer from the St. Louis Area Food Bank in February. “We’ve given many to clients, police, churches, preschools, and the public schools,” Plank said. “However, we had some left and we are using them at this time at the pantry.”
Anyone in need of food is encouraged to come to the Food Pantry during its regular hours on Thursdays and Fridays. They will receive food as long as they meet the TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) guidelines, which can be found at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/emergency-food-assistance-program. You can contact the Food Pantry at 573-885-6703. In an emergency, call 1-800-728-7825.
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