Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus

Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus 709 467 Harry Chapin Food Bank

Friday, July 10, 2020

“Unusual times,” “extraordinary times,” and “new normal” are common phrases that we hear that we have perhaps become a little tired of hearing. Sadly, they appropriately express our current circumstances. Our “new normal” is nothing short of heroic efforts taken by our community to ensure that no one has to go hungry. This extraordinary work is completed despite major hurdles and challenges that your food bank must overcome. This past week is not any different. This past week, we distributed 875,720 pounds of food into our five-county footprint. That means we have provided 729,767 meals to those who need food.

Regrettably, we are experiencing a significant drop in the number of volunteers willing to give of their time. We have been shorthanded at several of our drive-thru distributions and in our warehouses. We have had to ask our staff to stop their work and help build kits or distribute food at the drive-thru distributions. Having our staff volunteer occasionally is not an issue, but many of our staff are volunteering much more than occasionally and its beginning to become disruptive given that we are a volunteer-driven organization. This week we had 338 volunteers give 1,111 hours of their time. Nonetheless, we need more help.

We remain diligent in our attempts to ensure that our staff and volunteers are safe. We sanitize our volunteer workspace between each volunteer shift. We fog our volunteer and staff workspaces each day. We require all volunteers to wear gloves and masks, which we happily provide. As volunteers arrive for a volunteer shift, we inquire of their health and about possible recent travels. We will not allow anyone who has been out of the country, not feeling well, or with a fever to volunteer. If you are well, able, and willing to volunteer, please click here to sign up.

This week, we rescued 321,040 pounds of food from our retail partners. The amount of food that we can rescue continues to fluctuate and our retail partners do not know when those levels will stabilize. Therefore, we continue to purchase an astronomical amount of food, $1 million dollars a month. Prior to the pandemic, the food bank spent an average of $450,000 a year on food. Our increased expenditures will not lesson any time soon and our ability to provide food will lie squarely on our ability to raise the necessary funds. To support our efforts, please click here.

The car lines at our 13 drive-thru distributions continue to grow. Our Immokalee distribution has grown to over 750 families per distribution. We often run out of food at our drive-thru distributions and must send families home without food. It breaks our heart when that happens. Fortunately, we have a partner network of 150 agencies that receives 70% of its inventory from your food bank so we direct them to one of our partner agencies. If you are in need of food, click here to find our nearest distribution.

Your food bank gratefully acknowledges that our community understands the sage words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Together, we are making a difference to those who are hungry in our community.