Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. employment rates are on the rise. Unfortunately, so is the number of Americans who can’t afford three meals a day.

Historically, the Greater Boston Food bank has shipped out around a million pounds of food per week to people in need. Now, the organization’s CEO and president says those numbers have grown to nearly 2.5 million.

“We expect that this is going to continue,” Catherine D'Amato said on Boston Public Radio Monday. "We believe these are the new norm levels for the Greater Boston Food Bank.”

According to new datafrom the nonprofit Feeding America, in Eastern Massachusetts, one in eight people and one in six children are deemed food insecure.

Read More: Greater Boston Food Bank Sees Increased Demand For Assistance, Braces For More

D’Amato said nearly half of the people relying on food assistance from the GBFB have never used their services before.

"This is, again, a reflection of the high unemployment and the business closures,” she noted. “That there is just an increased number of people saying ‘I’ve never had to do this before, I’m not really sure where to go, is it okay to come?’”

“The answer” to those questions, she said, "is yes."

Thankfully, D'Amato said her organization has been able to keep up with new levels of demand, in part thanks to collaboration with local food banks across the Commonwealth.

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Also significant is the $56 million put forth by Gov. Charlie Baker, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to fund programs that support the food needs of Massachusetts communities.

"The dollars will go to... purchasing food, supporting the food banks… supporting the emergency food network,” D’Amato said. “$36 million of that will go through a grant application to support a variety of needs across our state from pantries to school meals, to fishing agriculture."

"It’s a pretty robust and comprehensive appropriation to help Massachusetts move back towards those food secure numbers, like those one in 13 numbers, versus one in eight,” she said. “This kind of investment will help all of us grow together.”

To the question of how the average person can help, D’Amato had two suggestions.

"Two things we need,” she said. “We will need ongoing resources to address this ongoing demand. And the second is volunteering, whether you do that in your local community or you come to Greater Boston Food Bank. And we can connect you both if you wanna give money locally, and or to GBFB, or volunteer locally or to GBFB.”

And to anyone who might be in need of the Greater Boston Food Bank’s services , D’Amato had this to say:

"For your listeners– for anyone seeking food, if they go to and click on 'need food,' the resources are there, from your local community pantry by your zip code, the Mass 211 resources, the Project Bread food source hotline, how to apply for food stamps. These are all there for individuals and families that need help right now."