LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Foodbank is paying laid off or furloughed restaurant and service industry workers to help box food.
The Arkansas Food Bank is seeing nearly a 50 percent increase in the number of families looking for meals.
"40% are new and they've never been to a pantry," CEO Rhonda Sanders said. "It is a whole new world for us this level of need."
This means more meals are going out, and CEO Rhonda Sanders needs more workers to help.
"We are packing each day for at least one thousand boxes a day. We need to be packing two thousand if we can," she said
The program is called "Get Shift Done." The food bank is looking for people in the restaurant or service industry who are out of work to fill shifts.
"Right now we are looking at shifts that would be for 15 in the morning and 15 in the evening," Sanders said.
The program started in Dallas. Wednesday was the Arkansas Foodbank's first day.
"We had five there today. One of them is working cut back hours, they've lost a lot of their hours, so they were there. Others that are coming are completely furloughed," Sanders said.
The restaurant industry is one of the hardest-hit industries because of COVID-19. Sanders felt they would be a great fit.
"Very hard to find work right now for people and it's a great match because these are already individuals that are used to handling food," she said.
The pay is $10 an hour, Monday through Friday. It is all possible thanks to people who donate to the program.
"We do have a generous donor who has donated. Others may choose to make that donation, which is as long as that is where we will continue to operate the program," Sanders said.
Sander's goal is to keep workers working and food on the table in central Arkansas.
"It's just a really great partnership and a real great thing for them to be a part of," she said.
If you would like to sign-up for a shift or donate to the program to help keep it going, go to getshiftdone.org/centralarkansas.