Want to help food banks during the pandemic? Here's how.

Volunteer at Northwest Arkansas Food Bank holding a box of food.
April 20, 2020
by Paul Morello

So, you’re stuck at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. You keep seeing all the negative news about the spread of the virus and how food banks are reporting a 70 percent increase in the need. We know that can be pretty discouraging. But, there are simple ways anyone can make a big difference. Not sure where to start? We can help. 

1. Make your mark through “contactless” volunteering from home…

More than ever, food banks across the country need volunteer help responding to the increased need. The majority of the Feeding America food banks are still looking for volunteers. Some food banks are creating at home volunteer opportunities to help keep everyone who wants to help safe. Ask your local food bank if there are virtual volunteer options you can do from home, like making donor thank-you calls or writing thank-you notes. The latter is a great way to get your little ones involved – ask them to decorate the cards by drawing their favorite type of fruit or vegetable, or even have them write a note as well. 

Note-writing or calling donors not your thing? Because food banks are so busy serving the elevated need, some might need volunteer help performing administrative work which can be done online, such as data entry or even monitoring and responding to basic email inquiries.

2. …or in the community  

As food banks shift to doing more home deliveries and mobile pantries, they often need drivers! For example, Feeding America Riverside San Bernardino  needs volunteers to deliver emergency food boxes to seniors and other homebound people. Volunteers simply leave the box at the client’s door. Other food banks like Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County are recruiting volunteers with pickup trucks to transport food from the food bank to local food pantries.

As always, your local food bank’s website and social media are the best ways to learn about what kinds of volunteers are needed most.

3. Get social and raise awareness

We are stronger together. But that strength first comes from being informed about the need and how food banks are responding. And you can help by raising awareness without leaving home. Add the Feeding America profile frame to your Facebook profile picture to not only show your support, but to remind all your friends that food banks are on the front lines of the pandemic. You can even share this blog post with friends who are inspired to help. While you’re online, follow your local food bank on social media and share their posts to help spread the word.

4. Use those family FaceTime sessions to strike up some friendly competition

Making a monetary donation is one of the most efficient ways to support our neighbors struggling with hunger during the pandemic. Start a virtual fundraiser or Facebook fundraiser, and on the next family FaceTime call, strike up some friendly competition by encouraging your loved ones to donate and share with their friends. Come up with some silly “prizes” to incentivize participation, like offering a special remote karaoke performance to the winning team (or losing team, depending on your singing skills) or have a pizza delivered to the family who donates the most. 

5. Thank a food bank!

Food bank staff and volunteers are on the front lines of the pandemic response, because they know that having food on the table means so much more than just a healthy meal - it is a source of hope. Share your support by signing this e-card and sending food bank staff and volunteers your words of gratitude and encouragement.