CHUM Food Shelf Sees Record Demand in 2020, Year Ahead Looks No Better

The food shelf served more than 16,000 people in 2020, and staff expects the need to go up as much as 20% in 2021.

DULUTH, Minn.- The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic left more than 15,000 people in the Twin Ports to rely on CHUM’s Food Shelf to put food on the table — an increased demand they haven’t seen in more than a decade.

“In my tenure it was a pretty big record setting year on my terms,” Distributive Services Director Scott Van Daele said.

The COVID-marked 2020 brought some of those people in for food multiple times a month, others multiple times a week.

“Before the pandemic hit we were on the cusp of solving that hunger issue for people and not making it a top headline issue,” said Van Daele. “The pandemic sort of kicked us back a notch.”

According to the Distributive Services Director, they served about 16,000 people in 2020 — over two thousand more than the people that came in 2019 — between the Downtown and West Duluth food distribution locations.¬†About 400,000 lbs of food went out the door.

But on the flip side Van Daele said, CHUM saw almost 450,000 lbs of donations come into the food shelf last year.

“I think the pandemic in a lot of ways brought out the best in people,” he said. “I think people started to recognize that not everything was, y’know flowers and green grass for everybody it was sometimes a struggle for neighbors.”

Going into 2021, he said he knows that generosity will continue — and it has to.

The need is projected to go up 20% this year, with the amount of people who may still be out of a job or living situation, and without adequate federal assistance.

“It’ll continue to struggle I mean I think their money will be short,” said Van Daele. “We need that stimulus and that jump start in the Government.”

After a year like no other, Van Daele expressed gratitude to the people of the Northland who contributed to that 450,000+ lbs of donations.

“Thank you,” he said. “Y’know I think none of us could do what we do without the community.”¬†And that continued kindness, he said, will continue to be necessary in 2021.

“You can’t put your foot off the gas, you gotta keep on giving,” said Van Daele. “Because that need and that want is not gonna go away anytime soon.”

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