HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As the pandemic continues, more and more people in the Tennessee Valley are seeking help to feed their families, and local organizations are working hard to meet the growing need.
Unemployment rates in Alabama have started to go down, but still, over 800 people in Madison County filed for unemployment during the week of July 26th through August 1st. Most of the claims are related to the pandemic.
This is leading to a huge need in North Alabama. Groups like the Downtown Rescue Mission are doing all they can to help.
"We were hoping by now this would be kind of over and we would be through it. I think everybody was hoping that, and so that's not what we're seeing," said DRM Director of Ministries, Jay West. "What we're afraid of is if it continues to linger, as it lingers on we're going to see more and more people who lose their job and who are going to need assistance."
Over the last five months, the Food Bank of North Alabama has distributed 4.2 million meals. In 2019, they gave out 3.8 million meals, and that was a record year for them.
Food Bank of North Alabama Executive Director, Shirley Schofield, said, "Some of our groups that we work with have had double the people coming in, some quadruple."
"We're starting to see more and more need, so as this goes on, donations are important," said West. "What we're seeing is people have kind of spent through their savings and they're needing help."
Even when things are starting to look better, this need will likely still be here.
"Even after there's a cure and people start getting healthier and it's not as prevalent, there's still going to be a pretty significant economic recovery that we're going to need to be prepared for," said Schofield.
These two organizations are always in need of donations.
The Downtown Rescue Mission is having a food drive Saturday, August 8th and Sunday, August 9th from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Click here for more information.
RELATED: Rocket Chef fundraiser going virtual
The Food Bank of North Alabama is currently holding a joint virtual fundraiser with Merrimack Hall. You can donate by clicking here.
WATCH: Food need in Huntsville on the rise