After Hurricane Irma, more people than usual are in need of food.
The storm knocked out electricity for some for many days, and for our neighbors who rely on food banks to make ends meet, food could be hard to come by.
Pantries were closed, or were difficult to get to. And for those without electricity, food went bad in refrigerators.
So it was no surprise that when the Religious Community Services (RCS) of Pinellas County re-opened their pantry, their inventory was quickly depleted.
"With Irma that really increased the need. We saw a 48% to 50% increase in the need for food from our community," says Kirk Ray Smith, Sr. "That's an additional 15,000 lbs of food," he adds.
Smith runs RCS and says the depletion comes at an already-challenging time for a pantry like theirs, since it's the time of year when pantries are already depleted because kids weren't getting meals at school over the summer.
"When we get to this time of the year, September through December, we really spend a lot of our time trying to recover from the summer months," says Smith Sr. "It's a critical time for us."
RCS Food Bank is a vital source to many families in times of need. More than 70,000 Pinellas County neighbors are served annually, 32,000 of those are children and senior citizens.
RCS, Inc. depends on financial and food donations to provide Pinellas County residents with the relief that they need. Help local people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting www.rcspinellas.org/donate, or calling (727)-584-3528.
Food distribution hours: Mon. to Fri., 12:30 p.m.- 3:30 p.m., and Thurs., 12:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Address: 700 Druid Road, Clearwater, Fla. 33756.