Hunger is hard enough. It’s even more difficult to face during a global pandemic. As unemployment has skyrocketed, so has people’s reliance on food programs. From daily meals services to community food pantries, volunteers say they’ve seen a sharp increase in people lining up for their services.

One program in Cortez is known as Grace’s Kitchen. It’s part of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. Doug Byeyle, the Priest-in-Charge at St. Barnabas, says the program has been serving food to disadvantaged communities for more than ten years.

During the pandemic, they’ve switched from a dining room environment to takeout sack lunches. They rely on community donations and volunteers. Bleyle estimates that more than a dozen volunteers work up to six hours a day, three days a week. About 60 individually-packed sack lunches are distributed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The pandemic is creating a greater need for food programs like Grace’s Kitchen. Already vulnerable populations are suffering more. People who might not have imagined needing a soup kitchen find themselves standing in line.

The common link is hunger. At Grace’s, everyone is welcome.

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I’m reporting on the impact of the coronavirus in the Four Corners region for KSUT Public Radio. The stories and audio here were previously aired and published by KSUT. Stories are archived at Open Range News.

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