Eyal Gutentag on How Covid-19 is Impacting Food Banks — Diane and Eyal Gutentag Charitable Fund

The COVID-19 epidemic has altered many aspects of our society. The state of public health has trickled down to affect our employment, education systems, and community programs. One community program that has had to drastically adapt due to the coronavirus is food banks. There has been a major shift in how these programs operate, as well as the demand and need for them.

Prior to the pandemic, food banks around the country were already serving 40 million people regularly. As circumstances have escalated, food banks estimate that 17.1 million additional people may need assistance. Many people need help getting food on the table for themselves or their families, from homeless individuals to those who have had their hours cut back at work. Food banks assist hard working people who need help getting back on track by providing nutrition.

“New normal” means new anxieties.

Many communities around the country are currently experiencing an increased need for food. During the early weeks of the pandemic, food banks, pantries, and kitchens in some cities saw a 30–60 percent increase in visitors, many of which were first timers. According to Feeding America, around 2 in every 5 people visiting a food bank are seeking help for the first time. This added demand is making it extra difficult for banks which already had a high level of traffic before the coronavirus hit to keep up.

For individuals who are facing hunger, this new reality can add a lot of stress and added pressure. Large families have been particularly impacted, as many parents are unemployed, homeschooling, and juggling new responsibilities. Parents are facing choices they have never had to make, such as whether to pay the electric bill or put dinner on the table. Finding time to visit a food pantry or local bank can be difficult to fit into a family schedule, especially when you add the added obstacles and complications of COVID-19.

Food banks are adapting.

To make the process of securing food easier, food banks have been adapting throughout the pandemic. This means utilizing new approaches to get food to those who need it most. Due to safety concerns, extra protocols must be put in place for distribution. Some food banks have shifted to mobile distribution, using drop off techniques or opening drive-throughs. Others have set up “Grab-n-Go” style food distribution outdoors, or are dropping off food to school bus stops. These types of measures can help keep everyone distanced and within protocol while continuing to help those in need. As much as we urgently need to help our vulnerable communities, we want to keep them safe in the process.

Food banks will need to continue to adapt as the coronavirus situation changes and develops. As a community, we will need sustainable long term solutions that can keep our communities fed and healthy. For now, we must all step up to do our part. There are many local organizations currently accepting food donations. I encourage you to take the time today to give back to those who need it most. — Eyal Gutentag

Originally published at https://www.dianeandeyalgutentagcharitablefund.org on October 2, 2020.