As COVID cases surge during the holidays, food banks respond to tremendous need

November 23, 2020
by Paul Morello

As coronavirus cases rise across the country, more of our neighbors will be turning to food banks during the holidays – many of them for the first time. During a season that is traditionally filled with festive gatherings and holiday meals, many people will not be able to afford food for themselves or their families. 

Feeding America, together with 200 nationwide food banks, is working to ensure that everyone has food during this unprecedented time of need - through the holidays and beyond. Here’s what you should know.

As the holidays arrive, food banks are responding to significantly increased demand 

Right now, 80 percent of food banks are serving more people than they were at the same time last year. And in many cases, our neighbors visiting food banks are visiting for the first time. Feeding America estimates that because of the pandemic, 50 million people could be at risk of hunger in 2020. So many people who’ve never wondered whether they could afford a holiday meal are realizing that this year will be different. On top of the stress the pandemic has caused, many of our neighbors are also facing hunger. 

Food banks have been – and will continue to be – there for our neighbors through the holidays

As more people seek food assistance, Feeding America and food banks are rising to meet the demand. From the beginning of March through the end of October, food banks have distributed an estimated 4.2 billion meals to our neighbors. In October alone, food banks distributed about 50 percent more food than an average month. Food banks have become accustomed to this increased level of distribution, and will continue to connect people to food through programs like drive-thru food pantries, holiday food distributions and delivery programs. 

There is a critical need for volunteers

During the pandemic, amazing volunteers across the country have been giving of their time to ensure our neighbors facing hunger have food. Now, volunteers are needed more than ever. Sixty percent of food banks nationwide are accepting and in need of volunteer support. That’s up significantly from earlier in the year. Whether it’s at your local food bank or a pantry near you, there are plenty of opportunities to answer the call as a volunteer this holiday and into 2021.

How Can I Help?
  • Volunteer! This holiday season, roll up your sleeves and volunteer at a food bank, pantry or soup kitchen near you. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved and make an impact. And don’t forget to sign our volunteer pledge to get started.
  • Donate to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The fuel we need to help distribute more than 4 billion meals in nearly eight months starts with you. Make a gift today, and every dollar raised from the COVID-19 Response Fund will be used to get food and funds to local food banks across the U.S. 
  • Support your local food bank. Whether it’s making a donation or signing up to volunteer, find your food bank and ensure they have the resources needed to feed people in your community.
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