BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On a sunny summer afternoon, Lori Miazga pulled into the St. Mary's School for the Deaf parking lot to pick up a couple boxes of food, including fresh produce, provided by FeedMore WNY.
The food will help the single mom feed her seven children at home, the combination of whom are biological, adopted and foster children.
“Seven children who were going to school all day long are currently home with me,” said Miazga, who has been able to maintain her job as a social worker despite COVID-19 shutting down the economy.
When the pandemic hit, Miazga started tapping into FeedMore WNY's pop-up mobile food distribution at St. Mary's, set up to help families impacted by COVID-19.
"It's a Godsend. It's extra food in the house, it's healthy food for the kids," Miazga said.
Childhood food insecurity has been on the rise because of COVID-19. Feeding America estimates that 54,690 children were food insecure in Western New York before the pandemic. The organization projects that number will rise to 79,510 - a 45 percent increase.
“We know that it’s going to be a long time coming in terms of battling child food insecurity even after that initial threat of the virus subsides. There will be a lot of financial hardship and food insecurity for many weeks and months and possibly years to come," said Catherine Shick, FeedMore WNY Communications Director.
For Miazga's family, the extra food from FeedMore helps ensure her children maintain healthy minds and bodies.
For staff at St. Mary's, it's a chance to connect with the community in a new way.
“It’s been really surprising to see the families that are coming in that you don’t think oh that’s a family that might need food. The impact of the coronavirus and how fast it happened and the loss of jobs, it’s really been wonderful," said Joy Higgins, elementary principal.