This past week we recently asked the food banks we serve to complete a survey about how the needs in their communities are changing. Hunger relief organizations in 39 countries are reporting:
50-100%+ increase in demand for emergency food assistance. One member noted: “We are handling five times more than our normal capacities.”
90% reported an urgent need for food. One member noted that due to panic buying, “Retail donations have been negligible for the past two months and show little indication of resuming. The current bump in wholesale donations and food drives will not be sufficient to offset these losses.”
21% reported an urgent need for more employees or volunteers to handle the increase in demand.
Community-based food banks are providing vital and heroic support to their neighbors during these challenging times. In the midst of a military-enforced lock down, FoodForward South Africa is ramping up service across the country and prioritizing relief to orphans and vulnerable children, seniors, and those living with HIV, AIDS, and TB. Tkiyet Um Ali is working in partnership with other nonprofits across Jordan to provide meals for 350,000 at-risk families each week.
Photo courtesy of Tkiyet Um Ali
The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) is focused on supporting our network through funds, shared learnings, and coordination. Since the beginning of March, GFN has provided technical and financial support for COVID-19 relief to food banks in 43 countries. In partnership with the European Food Banks Federation, over the past two weeks we committed unique resources to responding to the crisis in Europe – including support for food banks in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the UK – with special thanks to significant contributions from BlackRock,Kellogg Company and one of its charitable funds, and Caterpillar Foundation. Our work with partners in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa is ramping up to help meet unprecedented demand for food relief.
Weekly we share a toolkit with best practices between 60+ countries. This toolkit promotes learning with the network and global partner organizations to help all areas prepare for, respond to and eventually aid in long-term recovery to community impact resulting from the COVID-19 virus. It includes valuable intel on carrying out zero-contact food distribution, tips for coordinating response in partnership with government, and creative ideas for re-deploying laid-off workers to aid in food relief.
Not only am I inspired by the hard work of our member food banks, but I continue to be heartened by the extraordinary responses across the public, private, and social sectors – so many of our supporters (you!) have acted with speed, innovation and a collaborative spirit.
At GFN, our work is only just beginning. We know even after the worst of COVID-19 has passed, hunger will be an enormous global challenge. We are going to need your ongoing support to ensure services and resources continue to be available to our must vulnerable communities.