HATFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Food insecurity is climbing in western Massachusetts as the rise in COVID-19 cases impacts more of the economy.

Springfield and Holyoke rank among the five municipalities with the highest food insecurity rates in the Commonwealth. In September, almost 114,000 people needed food assistance across all of western Massachusetts, 18 percent of those for the first time.

More than 100 local food pantries and meal sites receive food from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The Executive Director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Andrew Morehouse, says the growing food insecurity will put pressure on those places.

Morehouse told 22News, “We witness hunger in rural and urban communities. For oftentimes similar and sometimes different reasons. The challenges of rural hunger can be unique.”

The Food Bank of western Massachusetts says people can help out by donating on their website to help their operations.