ROANOKE, Va. – Money is tight for a lot of people because of the coronavirus, and affording food can be tough too. The Roanoke Rescue Mission is opening registration early for its annual Drumstick Dash fundraiser to provide meals to families in need.
Lunchtime looks a little different at the homeless shelter. Tuesday afternoon, one homeless man, Leonard Lafferty, picked up his meal to-go. Lafferty said affording food has always been tough, but especially now because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“My income is real low and it’s hard for me to get back and forth to stores," said Lafferty. "I ride a bicycle as you see. And this is the closest place for me to come.”
These to-go meals are just one of the new ways the homeless shelter is fighting hunger during the coronavirus outbreak.
'We’re actually seeing about 100 extra meals a day," said Kevin Berry, the shelter’s community outreach and marketing manager.
The shelter still provides housing and dining services to people staying at the shelter overnight. However, the shelter wanted to maintain social distancing, and decided to offer the to-go meals at lunch and dinner. The shelter also provides free meal boxes to the community on Saturdays.
“It’s typically used as a supplement to somebody’s bill that they can use,” Berry said. "Instead of spending it on food, they can, say, spend it on rent or other items.”
Due to the growing demand at the shelter to provide meals, the expenses have increased.
The annual Drumstick Dash 5K run/walk on Thanksgiving Day is the shelter’s biggest fundraiser, which brings in about $300,000 and pays for all the shelter’s dining services throughout the year.
Registration usually opens in June, but the shelter decided to open registration early to raise money.
“Hopefully that will bring in a nice revenue stream for us here," Berry said.
100% of all the race registrations fund health or food services the shelter provides. This year, a portion of each entry fee will go to providing meals for people like Lafferty.
“To be able to come down here and get something to eat is a blessing for me," Lafferty said. “It means a lot to me to survive.”
The shelter is also hopeful that the race could be the first time the community comes together after the coronavirus outbreak is over.
“The Drumstick Dash could be the first big event in this community where we can all kind of come together, and wouldn’t that be awesome,” Berry said.
Berry added that it’s too early to speculate whether or not the race will still happen as planned this fall, but he does know there is an immediate need for food and donations.