Two hundred and fifty local families received needed food on Friday, thanks to a food distribution event at Emmaus Church.

The Northfield Community Action Center’s “Truck to Trunk” distribution included meat, dairy and fresh fruit products distributed by four staff members of Northfield Growing Up Healthy and three from the CAC. Most of the items were distributed through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through Channel One Regional Food Bank as part of an effort across the region.

CAC Program Director Anika Rychner said the distribution not only prevented people from going hungry, it also served as a way for families to stretch their budgets so that they can pay utilities and prevent possible eviction or other negative circumstances.

The last two food distributions through the program in Northfield have sold out. By the end of Friday’s distribution, organizers were referring those who came to the CAC Food Shelf. The distribution was open to everyone and required no registration or sharing of information. The next food distribution is scheduled for Aug. 7 at Emmaus.

“It’s so great,” Rychner of the distribution. “It’s sad and humbling that people need so much.”

She estimated 35-40 cars were at the church a half-hour before the distribution began. As further evidence of the current need, Rychner said a lot of the people who were receiving food were doing so on a first-time basis.

According to the World Bank, disruptions in domestic food supply chains, other shocks affecting food production, and loss of incomes and remittances are increasing food security risks. The United Nations World Food Programme has warned that an estimated 265 million people worldwide could face acute food insecurity by the end of this year — up from 135 million people before the crisis — because of income and remittance losses.

Food producers also face large losses on perishable and nutritious food as buyers have become limited and consumption patterns shift. According to the World Bank, the pandemic is especially harming the poor and vulnerable, including the more than 820 million people worldwide who were already chronically food insecure before the COVID-19 crisis.

Those trends are being felt in Minnesota. May seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in Minnesota neared 10% — far higher than the 3.2% in May 2019. The seasonally adjusted rate in May was 13.3% in the U.S.

Jennyffer Barrientos, who works with Northfield Growing Up Healthy, said she helped distribute the food items on Friday because she enjoys assisting those in need.

“Food is an extreme need at this time,” she said. To her, the distribution is evidence of the tight-knitted nature of Northfield.

“We see that there’s a need, and we try to fill that need,” Barrientos said.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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