Food distribution need on rise

Prodisee Pantry gives out three times as much food in 2020


SPANISH FORT – Requests for help at Baldwin County’s largest food-distribution agency are about three times last year’s total due to the impacts of COVID-19 and hurricanes, Deann Servos, Prodisee Pantry director, said Tuesday.

“We did about 1,500 families in November. The numbers just keep going up. This year, we will be very, very close to 3 million pounds,” Servos said. “That’s 1,500 tons. Last year, we did 452 tons. Three times what we normally do, we have done this year, give or take a few tons.”

In 2019, the agency had 13,507 family visits. So far in 2020, that total reached 28,047 with a month to go in the year, she said.

Prodisee Pantry distributes food each Tuesday at the agency’s site on US 31 in Spanish Fort. Servos said requests for help have not diminished.

“We didn’t expect this one to be slammed out busy, but we still had a hefty big crowd,” Servos said after the Tuesday, Dec. 1, distribution. “It was steady all morning.”

She said that if COVID-19 numbers continue to increase, the need for help from agencies such as Prodisee Pantry will rise as well.

“As we watch things resurge here, more people are going back to hunkering down,” Servos said. “Maybe they’re not working as many hours. We don’t know what January is going to look like. Plus, we have the holidays here and we’re waiting for the two-week things that we’re waiting is going to happen from Thanksgiving and see what develops out of that.”

Hurricanes Sally and Zeta also led to increased need for food in 2020. Prodisee Pantry held extra distribution drives during the year.

She said Prodisee Pantry has been able to keep up with demands so far but will need support to continue distributions.

“We received some good sizeable grants initially and we’re cautiously optimistic at the end of the year that folks may be feeling generous and may be able to help out if they have a little bit extra,” she said. “That’s why we’re reminding folks that we’re all in this together. If we all can give a little bit of our time, give some of our gifts and, of course, give of our prayers then we’ll be able to get through this, because we’ll get through this together.”

Many people coming to Prodisee Pantry in 2020 have not had to ask for food or other help before. Some people who donated money and items in the past, are now lining up for food themselves, she said. The gifts of food are a way to provide emotional support as well as nutrition.

“We’re all in this together because there’s emotional needs, physical needs,” Servos said. “We can all have an impact somehow on someone else and that way we’re not alone. We’re all in this together. It’s not just you. You may be isolated. You may be feeling alone because you are embarrassed you even need groceries, but you’re not the only one.”

She said that whatever 2021 brings, she is confident that the agency and its supporters will meet the demand.

“Hopefully, people will feel generous, but I understand that with the whole economy it may or may not be there, but I do believe that we’ll be here,” Servos said. “God’s not going to let us down. We’ve always had enough to share.”