RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Latino community was already facing challenges with food insecurity prior to the pandemic but after over a year of increased economic uncertainty these issues have skyrocketed.

Feed More is a local hunger relief organization that has been particularly involved with helping these struggling families.

“Since COVID, the food insecurity in the Latino community has risen to 19%,” said Tobarrus Hollingsworth who has been with Feed More for two years.

The organization also states that Latinos were 2.5 times more likely to experience food insecurity than white individuals. While those are national statistics, Feed More says we’re seeing similar trends in Central Virginia.

“We have certain areas that are Hispanic populations that are food deserts,” Hollingsworth explained. “Like South Richmond and the Chester area.”

To combat this, Feed More has committed to learning and understanding the growing Latino population, all while bringing food closer to the community.

“Internally, we’re working closely with partner food pantries that serve Latino neighbors,” said Rodrigo Arriaza, with Feed More. “Our mobile pantry distributions are just one way that we work to meet folks where they are.”

Earlier this month, Feed More partnered with the YMCA to host a mobile pantry in the Chester area. Dozens of volunteers bagged food as cars lined the block awaiting these critical resources.

Claudia Quintanilla was the first car in line.

“During the pandemic, it’s been really nice for us because my kids were hungry,” she said. “Without this, things would be very bad.”

In 2020, Feed More’s mobile pantries served more than 54,000 individuals. The organization is now recruiting more Spanish- speakers for the pantries and hunger hotline. Hollingsworth says these are the necessary steps to eliminate barriers and increase access to critical food assistance.

“With Feed More, this is people helping people,” he said. “People can take their guard down because we recognize them as a person and not just a number.”

To get assistance or to volunteer, click here.

September is Hunger Action Month and 8News parent company, Nexstar, is partnering with Feeding America to fight food insecurity and tell the story of those groups participating in that same fight.