According to Feeding America, food banks across the country are seeing a 55% increase in the amount of people they are serving compared to pre-pandemic days.
Many people who are struggling with receiving food are experiencing this for the first time.
Locally, the Church of God has a pumpkin patch each year that helps children in the Gainesville community and the villages of Guatemala receive food.
The Gainesville Church of God’s 9th annual Buy a Pumpkin, Feed a Child is a charity program where each pumpkin or item bought from the concession stand contributes to a meal for these children. This year, the event runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31.
Volunteer Brooke Benson said everything that is purchased will go towards feeding children and it is what brings her back to volunteer each year.
“I know that we’ve also sold more amount in pumpkins than we sold last year,” Benson said. “Every year we just keep getting bigger and bigger, which is amazing because that means we feed more and more children.”
The pumpkins range from $5 to $35 depending on their size and circumference.
UF student Maia Kofman said she has already recommended her friends to go because she would like them to also contribute to the cause.
“This was really just something that the community did to give back and you can still get that wholesome fall Halloween energy, so I really did enjoy that about it,” Kofman said.
Benson added that sales on their pumpkin breads and pumpkin sales are bigger than any other year.