KITCHENER -- With many people experiencing food insecurity because of COVID-19, Kitchener’s food bank says the community has responded to a call for help with a record-breaking amount of support.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region says that, during its summer relief campaign, the community raised 1,108,475 meals, far surpassing the organization’s original goal of 500,000 meals.

The meals raised from the campaign will go to supporting the ongoing delivery of community meal programs, emergency food hampers and shelter and residential programs.

According to the organization, more than 34,500 people struggle to put food on the table in Waterloo Region.

The organization points to the stress of job loss, limited budgets, illness and full-time childcare or home schooling brought on by the pandemic.

The food bank says that, with assistance from community and corporate sponsors, they’re planning for a 30 per cent increase in food assistance needs throughout the year as COVID-19 continues to unfold.

In April, the food bank reported a surge in new clients at the start of the pandemic, with weekly food deliveries increasing by 121 per cent.