GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — Since unemployment benefits have expired, Franklin County Community Meals Program and the Stone Soup Café are already seeing the impact.

“We’ve typically have been doing 350 meals and for the last two weeks we’ve done 400 or more meals,” Kirsten Levitt, the executive chef for the Stone Soup Café said.

Levitt told 22News need went down when things started reopening in April. However, she said with unemployment benefits gone, some are coming back.

“A gentleman that I spoke with last week told me that he was living in his van and I was like ‘okay so what can I give you extra,'” Levitt said.

Rachel Berggren with the Franklin County Community Meals Program said the pandemic has caused food insecurity to jump.

“We have this meal site in Turners Falls that normally serves 50 people a week, maybe sometimes 40, and ever since the pandemic we’ve been serving 150+ people there,” said Berggren.

A bad situation that’s gotten noticeably worse in recent weeks. Berggren said they were giving out 90 to 100 meals at their Greenfield distribution site. However, for the last few weeks, that number has jumped to more than 130 and they’ve had to resort to giving some people their brown bag meals. It’s something she hopes things will get better, but she said that starts with you.

How you can help:

“You can be part of solving these problems in your community,” Rachel said. “We can’t really change the world, we can’t transform. We can’t really support each other unless we think of each other as neighbors and as partners in solving problems and taking care of each other.”

To find out how you can help, click the links below.