Feeding America estimates that more families will be empty plates this holiday season than ever before.
Buffalo, New York – Thanksgiving is a day that relates to that: Thanks and Giving.
But as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, more and more families are struggling, with hunger a major concern.
Food insecurity in America has always been a problem. But this year, given the massive impact of the pandemic on everyone and everything, the numbers are higher than they have ever been
Feeding America It is estimated that more families will see empty plates this holiday season than ever before, with 1 in 9 people suffering due to food insecurity.
Dr. Raul Vasquez is the CEO of Urban family practice It has been serving Buffalo West Side for more than 30 years.
“The need is worse than I’ve ever seen,” says Dr. Vasquez.
Jobs, medical aid, money, food, education, shelter, clothing, transportation … the list of things Americans find themselves needing as a result of the pandemic.
And now, with the holiday season in full swing, families are feeling emptied unlike ever before.
“You have people who usually support these types of events, and now they’re the actual people who need the food,” he says.
Although his stocks and medical aid are available to the community 365 days a year, this time of year is special, when they keep their Turkey route.
Dr Vásquez and his team of 240 employees are meeting to distribute turkeys to those in need, focusing on postal codes where the need is greatest.
“14215 is a desert,” Vásquez says, and 14211 and 14213 came in second and third places.
“Our communities of color have been hit hard since day one. As the numbers get worse, their conditions are getting worse. I just want to push them forward,” he says.
Usually, 400 to 500 turkeys are delivered. This year 750 Turkeys were delivered simply due to demand.
“It’s our dollars, it’s our money that goes into this. We have some donations going on, but 90 percent of the tab is absorbing it because it’s important for us, to make sure that we affect life,” says Vasquez.
Not only does he help his members and patients, Vasquez also assists his staff. He told 2 On Your Side that every year, and especially this year, anyone who needs a turkey gets a turkey.
“The truth is we all go through tough times,” he says.
Medical experts predict it will get worse, here in western New York and across the country, before it gets better. As a result, the holidays will not look or feel very “traditional”, because many are separated or mourn the loss of a loved one.
But, says Dr. Vasquez, wait.
“I know everyone is tired of the Coronavirus, but it is really important that we continue to follow public health and safety measures. Stay home, do not travel, we will get past this.”