Let me start by saying thank you. I know that the COVID-19 disease pandemic has affected you, your families, and your places of work. Yet in the past week we have received an unprecedented outpouring of support and concern for our global neighbors who this crisis disproportionately impacts. You have donated, shared messages of support on social media, and many of you have called and asked how you can help push back the truly alarming rise in acute food insecurity. Thank you!
Since my last update to you just ten days ago, the percentage of GFN network food banks providing relief in places of active outbreaks has skyrocketed from 25 to 90 percent. Measures essential to contain the spread of COVID-19 has dramatically increased the number of families that need support from their local food bank. Last week the International Labour Organization estimated that the number of lost jobs could climb to nearly 25 million. Critical anti-virus efforts have also meant that approximately 850 million children are out of school, putting many kids who depend on school for a lunch or breakfast at risk.
At the same time, food donations to food banks are declining due to disruptions in local supply chains. Last week both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal discussed how the food supply globally is abundant, but pandemic-related disruptions, including panic-buying and hoarding by frightened consumers, make it even more difficult to get food to those who need it most.
Despite this, food banks are providing vital hunger relief to children and families in need during this crisis. They are creatively overcoming supply challenges to safely provide meals to children and families facing hunger. Here are some highlights:
The Korea National Food Bank is providing “emergency packs” to families in Daegu City, which has been hardest hit by the pandemic;
After seeing a significant decline in retail and manufacturer donations due to panic-buying, Foodbank Australia in collaboration with the country’s largest retailers Coles and Woolworths, arranged for a dedicated supply of products for Foodbank Australia to distribute to those in need;
Feeding India, which has traditionally relied onfood rescue from hotels, caterers, and restaurants, has shifted to distributing food baskets consisting of grains and other essential items to those at-risk during the nationwide quarantine;
Food banks in Colombia are providing nutrient-rich emergency packs to 48,000 children who have reduced access due to the pandemic.
The Global FoodBanking Network continues to work closely with its members and partners to ensure that relief continues during this crisis. We are accelerating knowledge sharing so food banks can source more meals and safely deliver food relief during this rapidly changing time. We have ramped up financing for our members so they can distribute food parcels more quickly. We are interceding with our global partners to help support members’ supply chains so they can better meet their communities’ urgent needs.
Regrettably, this crisis is just beginning and we need your partnership and support. Local food banks are on the front lines during this humanitarian emergency. Due to their efficiency and creativity, GFN food banks can deliver on average 8 meals for every US$1 invested. You can support these hunger fighters by making a donation directly to a food bank in your community, or by joining GFN to support hunger relief in more than 40 countries.
I’ll continue to update you regularly on how GFN and its partners are confronting this pandemic. Thank you for your support!