NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News community leaders came together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by ensuring no family goes hungry this year.
The Virginia Peninsula Food Bank held their annual MLK Day food collection on Monday, with the goal of raising 65,000 meals.
Hundreds of people dropped off peanut butter and canned fruit, some of which say they're giving back because they've faced food insecurity themselves.
"People really need help right now, and if it wasn't for people that helped me before I wouldn't be in the position to help others now," said Felicia Bradley, a Peninsula native who went through the drive-thru donation service Monday.
Instead of coming to receive food, Bradley now comes to give back.
"I've been in this position before, where I didn't have anything when I was raising my son," she explained. "People really do need help right now."
But despite the need being at an all-time high, donations at the food bank are reaching historic lows.
The Virginia Peninsula Food Bank says they're down about 18% in donations. This is due to the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain issues, grocery shortages and an increase in supply costs.
"We've seen up to 20% increases in our food purchases and about 40% in transportation costs," said Donna Tighe, the director of development for the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank.
This is causing people to decide between "heat or eat," heating their home or eating a good dinner.
"Seniors are also deciding if they're going to have their prescription drugs that they need or eat food," explained Renee Figurelle, chief operations officer for the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank. "We're filling that gap."
Monday's food collection was hosted by Newport News Mayor McKinley Price, who hosted the event for the sixth year in a row.
He says many of the food collected today goes to area kids, shaping the future of Hampton Roads.
"Kids are our future," he said. "You can't concentrate on school if you're hungry, so it's extremely important for us for our kids to be successful; to have sufficient food and quality food which the food bank will supply."
Mayor Price was joined by Congressman Bobby Scott, Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan and Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew.
Monday's collection is the second largest the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank has had all year, helping them feed more than 10,000 people and children annually. The food bank tells us that a total of $13,401 and 11,209 pounds of food was generously donated Monday, which equates to 62,944 meals.
Financial donations to the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank can be made here. Every dollar donated provides four meals to those in need.