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Poplarville food pantry reacts to increase in need

The impact of COVID-19 to residents in Pearl River County has caused more people to seek out food donations from a local food pantry.
Ed Sternod, chair of the Board of Directors for Brother’s Keepers Ministries in Poplarville, said that in the last couple of days he has seen an influx of people seeking food, while also dealing with a reduction in volunteers and food donations from a regaional business.
Friday morning, Sternod said he and his fellow volunteers served close to 30 families before noon. On a typical day, they usually see between 15 to 18. And since donations from the local Walmart have decreased from four to five pallets two times a week to one to two pallets this week, the amount of food Brother’s Keeper can provide to families in need has also decreased.
By Friday afternoon, shopping carts contained only a few bags of food, waiting on the next family. Sternod said that in the recent past those carts were full to the top with food.
The social distancing requirement as a result of COVID-19 has also caused his volunteers to enact a variation on distribution. Typically the family would come to the center and wait in the lobby for a full basket. Friday, families were asked to remain in their vehicle and wait for a volunteer to bring the basket to their car.
Sternod said that most of the shelves in the food pantry are nearly empty, and all of the freezers have been emptied as well.
Sharron Bonnecarrere with Crossroads Food Pantry said she has not seen any difference since their next distribution date is not until March 25. Crossroads Food Pantry distributes food every other Wednesday.
However, Bonnecarrere does plan to initiate a change in the way they distribute food on Wednesday. Instead of having people come into the center, they will be provided food in a drive-thru method, she said. In an effort to help with traffic, some volunteer firefighters will be on site.