TORONTO -- Many food banks in the Greater Toronto Area say they are busier than ever before due to the pandemic.

“We started at 35 to 40 families and now we are at over 170 families,” said Marcia White, Food Bank coordinator for the Kendalwood Church Food Bank in Durham Region. “So there has been a drastic increase.”

Programs that help support food banks are noticing the need as well.

“We’ve seen an increased need in our community over the past few months, especially people who have never used the food bank before,” said Ben Earle, Executive Director of Feed the Need in Durham.

It’s why relief programs like Feed the Need in Durham have been working hard to ensure food banks have the supply they need. When schools closed last spring due to COVID-19, it put an end to many of the in-person food drives the organization depends on.

“Immediately we had to shift our perspective,” explained Victoria Derusha, Operations Coordinator for Feed the Need in Durham. “And predominately the focus is now on food purchasing so that we know we have staples in our warehouse.”

The organization says the public has been very generous in giving monetary donations to make the food purchasing happen.

“We’ve had amazing response from our community during the last six months,” said Robyn McKibbon, community engagement coordinator for Feed the Need in Durham. “It has been incredible to see how people were feeling blessed and lucky to be in the situation they were in, and were willing to share.”

“People have really stepped up to help their neighbours, and we’re really grateful for that,” Earle added.

On Tuesday, Feed the Need in Durham held its’ 5th annual ‘Push Against Hunger’ walk. The walk took participants, elected officials and emergency medical services representatives along Highway 2 in Oshawa and Whitby.

“It’s events like this that show the wonderful things that the community does and make sure we come together to make sure those individuals don’t go without,” Earle told CTV News Toronto.

Feed the Need in Durham hopes the support for the community continues through September, which is Hunger Action Month.

“So proud of our Durham community, so proud to call Durham my home,” McKibbon said. “Remember your neighbours in need, and together – we’re strong.”