Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri warehouse supervisor Dave Beckman, left, and warehouse driver Joe Lewis load sweet potatoes onto a forklift in January.

Food insecurity always has been a pressing issue, but the pandemic put a spotlight on it, said Lindsay Lopez, president and CEO of The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

“We were given a national platform,” Lopez said. “The silver lining is we can educate the public about the need.”

There was so much uncertainty at the start of the pandemic, she said.

“What we have seen is increases in people whose circumstances changed very quickly with the pandemic,” she said.

People sometimes had to choose between food and paying bills, she said.

The increased demand affected the food bank’s budget, she said.

“Our costs did go up significantly,” she said. “It almost tripled what we had budgeted for food.”

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