Greater Cleveland Food Bank experiencing record demand with more people being out of work

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is experiencing record demand for help amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Ohio National Guard troops sorted and packaged emergency boxes of food containing a weeklong supply.

“We’re really trying to assist anyone in need of food right now. There are so many people who have been laid off and don’t know where to turn,” said Karen Pozna, the food bank’s Director of Communications.

She said the food bank’s help center received 1,500 calls last week alone, surpassing typical volume for an entire month.

“We expect that to continue to grow,” Pozna said.

During a drive-through food distribution Tuesday, traffic backed up for miles as people lined up for assistance.

Pozna said the food bank is considering changes to reduce that kind of traffic tie-up during future distributions, including by adding help from Cleveland police and the National Guard.

“We continue to reassess and regroup after those distributions to see how we can get that food out as quickly as possible to as many people as possible,” Pozna said. 

Pozna said people in need should contact the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s help center at 216-738-2067.

Some people are being referred to hundreds of partner programs, such as the May Dugan Center in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, which distributed food Wednesday.

To qualify for Greater Cleveland Food Bank assistance, Pozna said recipients must be below 200 percent of the poverty line and provide photo identification.

“We want to be able to help as many people as we can right now,” she said.

The food bank is also seeking monetary donations to continue to help those in need, which can be made online at

“We see this need really continuing to increase over the next several weeks, and we want to make sure we are able to answer that need,” Pozna said.

The food bank is still determining when it will hold its next drive-through distribution event.

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