Community agencies expect cases of hunger, homelessness to increase amid COVID-19 pandemic

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is Nov. 15-22.

COVID-19 amplifies hunger, homelessness; community resource groups expect further increases

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — “Homelessness is not just the stereotype of the old man standing on the side of the road asking for money,” explained Sarah Ardis, development director for the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission. “It’s just not that way anymore.”

And Ardis said the misconceptions associated with homelessness are just some of the reasons she wants people to be educated about it.

“We have women that are escaping domestic violence. We have men who, because of the recent pandemic or because of the economy, that have lost their jobs.”

Christa Pazzaglia works as the executive director at Hope Connections, across town from Ardis. She also helps homeless people get back on their feet.

“No one chooses to be homeless,” Pazzaglia said. “That’s a myth.”

Hope Connections is gearing up to help more people as federal protections expire, she said. “We expect a surge in homelessness as soon as the eviction moratorium is over.”

Meanwhile, the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana is teaming up with KSLA News 12 on Wednesday for the station’s annual Holiday Food Drive.

“I think it’s going to be really record-breaking this year, at a time when we need it most,” said Martha Marak, the food bank’s executive director.

This pandemic has affected everyone, and some more than they would’ve imagined, she said

“We’ve had record-breaking numbers of clients come to distribution sites to get food, those that never thought they would be in a line asking for food,” Marak said.

The food bank has been behind on food as it depends on grocery stores and food drives, she said.

“As the pandemic has brought on really robust and healthy grocery store sales, unfortunately, it has hurt food banks with the amount of food we normally receive.”

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