Second Harvest Food Bank seeing increase in need due to gov't shutdown

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida said it is seeing a huge spike in people searching for food assistance in its six-county service area because of the partial government shutdown.

“We’ve had countless agencies that have told us they’ve had federal [workers] reach out to them. We’ve also received a number of stories through our social media channels,” said Kelly Quintero, director of advocacy and government relations for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Quintero said the food bank has seen a 60 percent increase in one week of people looking for help. 

Hundreds of thousands of government workers did not get paid last week because of the partial government shutdown and many are starting to feel the pinch.

Quintero said anyone who needs help is welcome at Second Harvest. 

“We’re not going to make you feel any judgment, no shame. We understand what’s going on, so if you need it, please come.”

Second Harvest also serves SNAP and WIC recipients. 

Quintero said there is funding for those users through February, but if the government shutdown continues, Second Harvest will most likely need to call on the community in March to help serve those in need.

"We’re going to have to make up 12 times as many meals as we usually do,” Quintero said. “So, it’ll be a task, and we’re going to call on the community to really dig deep and help us out when they can.”

Quintero said right now, Second Harvest desperately needs volunteers to pack food boxes. 

People can also donate money. 

A $10 donation can provide 40 meals. 

Quintero said people who want the donation earmarked to help furloughed workers should just mention it at the time of donation.