COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As the pandemic rages on, more families are dealing with food insecurity than ever before.

The Mid-Ohio Food Collective estimates a third of those who have come to them in need since March 2020 are new customers.

It was eye-opening to Capt. Denver Burkhart who was in charge of 30 soldiers in the National Guard sent to the collective to help.

“It was something that was being built at the time, so it was something we were able to step into,” said Burkhart. “We were starting a drive-thru, just rapidly serving customers in the midst of the pandemic.”

He served two tours overseas in the Army. And with the National Guard, he led platoons in disaster relief and riot control. Helping hungry people was a new mission.

“No one should be having to make a decision over household expenses or food,” he said.

There is a stigma attached to people asking for food, Burkhart and his guardsmen battled against that stereotype.

“Some of them express how grateful they are, others are just having a hard time getting through the day, I just show ’em respect,” he said.

Burkhart left the collective as part of his duty in May. He came back, as a full-time employee, as part of his life mission.

“It’s that same feeling of a team, that collaboration to accomplish the mission,” he said.

Burkhart says helping the Mid-Ohio Food Collective is extremely important to him and that he feels like he is making a difference.