Meals banks overcrowded with extra folks in want concern not having sufficient. • Lengthy Seashore Submit Information
Since efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus nearly brought the economy to a standstill, Moncton food banks are now serving more people than ever before.
Thousands of Californians are food unsafe after more than 2 million filed jobless claims in the state since mid-March. Federal small business loan programs are being exhausted and millions of Americans have been laid off or made redundant.
“Food banks are seeing the number of people who need their groceries doubling and tripling,” said Diana Lara, executive director of Food Finders, which connects donated perishable foods with nonprofits and emergency shelters across southern California.
When the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning, her organization saw donations decline as many rushed to grocery stores and restocked or hoarded goods. Food banks often receive donations from grocery stores. But donations to Food Finder have since balanced out, and have even increased in some areas as new sources of donation emerge, Lara said. They have also continued to receive donations from manufacturers they previously partnered with.
“We get calls from dairy farmers and producers who don’t want to throw away any food,” said Lara. She awaits a shipment of sour cream from an Oregon dairy farmer and pallets of onions from a group that organizes donations for harvesting boards.
Farmers’ food would normally go to restaurants or schools, but since schools are closed and most restaurants are closed or take away only, they don’t consume as much food, she said.
“Farmers don’t want this food to end up in the trash,” Lara said.
One of the partnerships they’re working on right now is with the Salvation Army Citadel Corps in Moncton, where they deliver 200 bags of non-perishable groceries to seniors twice a week, Lara said.
Food finders do not distribute directly to people, but to food banks, non-profit organizations and emergency shelters, which then distribute them to their customers. These bulk donations from farmers and manufacturers go to food banks like Moncton Community Table, a nonprofit that works to provide people with unsafe food access to healthy options in the city.
Community Table distributes groceries to people in parks on weekends, distributes groceries from their warehouse and supplies groceries to seniors and people with disabilities, including managing director Kristen Cox.
Donations were unpredictable for their organization.
Before the pandemic, they received an average of 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of food a week. Last week they got 10,000 pounds, but this week they got about 6,000 pounds.
Your food distributions now have “big lines” every time as more people need help.
“It’s exponential every week,” said Cox.
Her organization recently received a grant from the Moncton Community Foundation to help meet the need. But she still worries about having enough food to distribute.
“It all helps, but it’s going so fast we’re just trying to hold on,” said Cox.
She worries that she will be able to get through the weekends handing out groceries in the parks.
“The big question is can we keep up with the demand this weekend,” she said.
The concern is reiterated at the AIDS Food Store, another nonprofit that distributes food to those who currently cannot afford it. Some of their distribution is covered by a contract with the Los Angeles AIDS Project, but much of that has to come from donations they collect themselves, said Jean Hartman, president of the nonprofit.
Every week her group gathers about 120 bags of food to hand out, but wishes they could do more, she said.
“Donations have increased and production has definitely increased, but we’re still trying to get it round,” said Hartman. “It’s not necessarily a balanced meal that we can offer, but we can offer a meal.”
They used to only hand out to known customers, but during the pandemic they received more pedestrian traffic from the Central Moncton neighborhood and were able to expand their services to more community members. Even so, Hartman worries they don’t have enough and she worries about lines forming on distribution days and she’s careful to over-promise.
“Every week I think, ‘Can we do this next week?'” Hartman said. “Every week is a fight.”