Operation Food Search sees biggest demand ever due to pandemic


OVERLAND, Mo. – Operation Food Search in Overland, which services food pantries across the St. Louis region, said it is seeing the greatest need for food than ever before.

Winter months around the holidays are always the busiest but this year, because so many people have lost income due to COVID-19, the demand is even higher.

“Typically in November, December, January, our shelves are definitely getting depleted because a lot of people have greater need in the winter months,” Operation Food Search Executive Director Kristen Wild said.

Wild said she’s noticing food is flying off the shelves at food banks across the St. Louis area quicker than usual, which may make it more difficult to keep stocked. Operation Food Search is also feeling the effects of empty grocery store shelves.

“Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Straubs are all very generous donors to us but their shelves have been depleted so there is less for them to donate to us but, on the other hand, we have had a higher amount of perishable food that’s been donated to us,” Wild said.

Holiday food drives may be canceled or just look different this year because of COVID. Wild said some people are getting creative to hold food drives, but many workplace food drives are no longer happening because of many people working from home.

“We’ve really had a great response from the community as far as donations. But of course, with the demand as high as it is, we can always benefit from more,” Wild said.

A big donor to food pantries across the St. Louis region is The Boy Scouts with its annual ‘Scouting for Food’ drive. It was set to end yesterday, which means boy scouts would usually be collecting food from donor’s porches, but due to COVID that was canceled, and they pivoted to monetary donations. The ‘Scouting for Food’ drive typically brings in 2 million food items. Some of that was supposed to go to Operation Food Search for the first time.

“Now with this change, it’s really a big unknown, so we’re just waiting to see and hoping for the best and hoping that now that there’s an option to make a financial donation, it would help make up for what shortages there may be with the food,” Wild said

If you need to locate food, need assistance, or would like to donate food or money to Operation Food Search, click here.

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