The food bank response to COVID, by the numbers

Food bank volunteer carrying boxes
November 25, 2020
by Paul Morello

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, good news can be hard to come by. But we've got some news you should be incredibly proud of: together, we're making a tremendous impact. Because of you, Feeding America and food banks across the country are making sure our neighbors impacted by the crisis have the food they need. At a time when so many people are visiting food banks for the first time, your support is driving our strong daily response. Want to know just how much we've done together? Check out some stats below.

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1. From the beginning of March through the end of October, food banks nationwide distributed an estimated 4.2 billion meals to our neighbors facing hunger in the United States.  

4.2 billion meals are enough to provide every single resident of the United States with breakfast, lunch and dinner for  just over four days. Because of the pandemic, we've seen a tremendous increase in the amount of people visiting food banks. And in many cases, those people are visiting for the first time. In fact, from March through June, 4 in 10 people visiting food banks were there for the first time.


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2. More than 80 percent, or 4 in 5, food banks are serving more people now than they did a year ago.

As the holidays arrive, many of our neighbors are facing a difficult realization: for the first time, they won't be able to afford food for their family, as layoffs and business closures have interrupted the incomes of many Americans. In October alone, food banks distributed 50 percent more food than they did last year at the same time. And yet, food banks are now accustomed to the higher level of need, and are working every day with Feeding America to ensure our neighbors facing hunger this holiday and beyond have the food they need to keep themselves healthy - and hopeful - into 2021.


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3. As a result of the pandemic, Feeding America estimates 1 in 6 Americans could face hunger.

As simple as that stat is, it’s also one of the most stunning. Because of COVID, more people than ever before are visiting food banks and many of them are getting help for the first time. Our neighbors who previously had stable incomes have now lost jobs or had their hours cut back. And food banks are stepping up, as they always have, to put food on the table for those who need it during this uncertain time. 

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4. Two-thirds of Feeding America food banks across the country are accepting volunteers.  

Many food banks need your help and have volunteer opportunities available right now! Before the pandemic, food banks relied on the generous time of nearly 2 million volunteers per month. Since COVID-19, volunteer numbers are down, but the need is even higher, as many regular volunteers are in the higher-risk category and are staying home. And there are many ways to help food banks right now in person or at home, including donating to our response fund.