OTTAWA COUNTY — The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has created issues with access to food for many.


As more individuals deal with job loss, being able to get nutritious food can be difficult. In Ottawa County, groups are working to ensure that residents have paths to a healthy and sustainable diet.


Ottawa Food partners with several agencies to assist food insecure individuals. Lisa Uganski, coordinator for Ottawa Food, said agencies across the county are working to ensure residents have access to healthy food during the pandemic.


“There’s definitely been an increase in need and families who are going through food insecurity,” Uganski said.


More than 1.3 million people in Michigan have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15.


While local school districts have been conducting meal distributions for families with children that qualify for free and reduced lunch, other individuals who have lost jobs during the pandemic may not qualify.


Uganski said that isolated seniors and migrant families may also have difficulties accessing healthy and culturally appropriate foods.


Meal distribution services have also adapted to the pandemic, with many offering curbside pickup to avoid the spread of COVID-19, Uganski said.


Groups like Kids Food Basket, Community Action House, Age Well, Feeding America of West Michigan and various others are continuing food distribution services to reduce food insecurity during the pandemic.


Individuals who are looking for food assistance can dial 211 or visit call-211.org to receive information about mobile food pantries, meal pickups and other services.


Care Ottawa County, which was established in light of the pandemic, also distributes grants to organizations dealing with food insecurity. People can visit the Care Ottawa County website to donate funds or food items that are needed by Ottawa County residents the most.


“It’s been so helpful to see our community step up in this time of need,” Uganski said.


— Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at alobo@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.