LOCAL LOOKOUT: Local group provides meals for Columbia youth
COLUMBIA— A local group is providing free meals to children and families in the northeast Columbia communities of Rice Road, Demaret and Indian Hills.
Erika Buford has been volunteering in communities and providing meals for families for over 20 years. Since the Coronavirus pandemic, she said she has seen the number of families in need of food double.
“Well, it's been over 100% I would say,” Buford said. “With this virus, there's a lot of people in need, and they don't have a voice to say, I need this.”
She said she used to provide meals once or twice a month, but now it has increased to twice a week. In a post on Facebook, Buford said the group provides for over 200 kids and 80 families.
She said she wants to help families with parents who have essential jobs and still have to work.
“They're not getting those extra food stamps and they're not getting that unemployment,” she said. “So, this is something that is helping them because some of them still have to work.”
The food given to the communities comes in part from community programs like Almeta Crayton and through donations. Buford said she has taken a lot out of her own pocket to be able to help families.
“It's just been a part of my nature to, you know, help people,” Buford said. “I'm going to go to the store and I'm just going to get it.”
She said sometimes she just does not have time to wait for donations to come in.
“It's just kid’s needs and so that's what I'm doing. I'm just helping the community wherever I can,” Buford said.
She said the children are always ecstatic to get the food.
If you would like to help, the group is accepting donations through GoFundMe.