LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Since 1981, GLFB has been providing food to those who need it in seven counties across mid-Michigan. Last year alone, the group gave out more than nine million meals. But it has a problem: they’re seeing more people in need of help since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last month in September, here at the food bank, we had more than 17,000 households seek our services throughout the communities we serve,” said Kelly Miller, director of philanthropy for GLFB. “That represents a 32% increase over this time last year.”

Miller said the demand has been rising like this since 2022. She believes the reason is that so many benefits were taken away once the pandemic was over. “We saw a lot of support, whether through additional SNAP benefits, stimulus dollars that were coming in. But once those ended, now we have seen a lot of those increases and that’s what we saw at the end of 2022, and now throughout 2023,” she said.

The result of ending benefits had ripple effects on other counties, like the one seen at the food pantry in Charlotte that recently lost its $100,000 grant funding from GLFB. “We were able to support every single one of our partners during the pandemic because we had a lot of pandemic relief coming in,” said Miller. “All of that funding is now gone.”

Even in the face of less funding, the food bank is still trying to tackle the problem, but they need the community’s help more than ever. One way to do that is by attending GLFB’s 33rd annual Empty the Bowls event on Oct. 27, from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Tavern & Tap in downtown Lansing, 111 E. Michigan Avenue. Tickets are on sale now.