One of the big concerns, among the many other concerns we have during the coronavirus pandemic, is about getting food. Although there is no real food shortage, shoppers are stripping stores of staples and straining the process of restocking. It is very apparent that many people are afraid that if they don’t stock up and even horde food, they may run out over time while we are hunkered down in our homes. Others who have lost their livelihoods due to the restrictions may find it difficult to afford to buy food, while seniors and other vulnerable people may be worried about going out to shop. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know about places that help with food.
The closing of our borders because of the spread of the virus, especially to the south and Mexico, is going to create a shortage of workers who pick and process the fresh fruits and vegetables we will need shortly, but for the moment that is not the problem.
Getting our food is a subject that most of us usually don’t have to worry about. For the vast majority of Americans, having enough food in your home is not ever an issue and in fact we sometimes waste a lot of it because of some really bad habits we have developed over the years. But suddenly now, rich or poor, we have seen that getting out and food shopping and finding the things we want is getting rougher.
That’s why it is important to know how you can help others get fed, and help yourself if you need it, too.
Places That Help with Food
The need for food now is greater than ever for lower income people. From donating goods, delivering food, charitable acts of giving money, and by volunteering to help, there are many ways to that you can contribute and help both locally and nationally as well.
Your local food bank
In almost every local area there is some form of a food bank or food pantry, a place that distributes food to people which are usually low income folks who have real trouble even under normal circumstances feeding themselves and their families. You can find food banks near you by checking FeedingAmerica.org, FoodPantries.org, or eFoodNet.org. If you are looking for assistance, please call your local food bank first to find our their current procedures and what information you will need to access their services.
Now, with the virus impacting every facet of our lives, food is becoming less available at the food banks and the people helping to get it distributed are not as nearly available to help. Ironically, at the same time as the food contributions are shrinking and volunteer lists are declining, there is a dramatic increase in the numbers of people who need assistance.
Where are those volunteers?
Think about this for a second. A good portion, about 50% of the staff at any local food bank, is usually made up of retired folks, seniors who are more vulnerable to coronavirus than younger people. These volunteers can’t risk working at the food banks right now and risk becoming ill from the exposure.
What you can do to help
If you are not in a high-risk group, you can still volunteer part-time, even just a few hours a week. It’s a bold step for sure, but if there are not enough volunteers to help right now, even healthy people might begin to suffer or die. Children will suffer and die. It’s like the local programs themselves have been stricken right now and they are on a life support program. If they can’t get and give help, the virus itself may not be the main factor harming those who really need their help.
Keep donating food and/or money
Your donations are needed now more than ever. Check by calling your local food bank to see what they are in need of because it varies from day to day. Almost any staple you donate will help.
Even when you are self-isolating, you can make a make a financial donation online or you can donate directly by mail. Most local groups have a website that enables you to do donations and they can take the next steps to getting the food supplies they need.
National Organizations Giving Help
Because the coronavirus pandemic is affecting millions of people around the world in such profound ways, including loss of work and a lack of medical care and food supplies, many organizations are stepping up to offer their help.
If you are able to help, here is a list of local, national, and international organizations that are working to ensure food, aid, and medical supplies are delivered to those who need it.
This organization helps feed communities and individuals facing hunger across the United States through a nationwide network of food banks.
With coronavirus forcing mass school closures across the country, millions of children are losing daily meals that they depend on. This organization ensures families know how to find food while schools are closed and making sure kids get three meals a day.
This organization delivers meals to the country’s elderly population. Many of its local programs are struggling with the additional costs of delivering meals during the outbreak.
NYC is now the epicenter of the virus here in the U.S. You can donate to several New York City–based food relief organizations that are working to ensure meals are delivered to the city’s elderly population or those who are too sick to cook or shop for food. These two organizations can help In New York City:
Citymeals is taking donations to help homebound elderly neighbors in need.
God’s Love We Deliver, a nonsectarian organization that prepares and delivers nutritious and medically tailored meals to people living with illnesses, is looking for both volunteers and donations.
This coalition of philanthropic, business, and government partners has started a COVID-19 Response Fund that will deploy resources to community-based organizations in the Puget Sound region in Washington. It will provide grants to fund organizations for residents without health insurance or access to sick days, health care, and to gig economy workers, and communities of color.
This nonprofit organization for the CDC is raising funds to help respond to the public health threat when federal and state funding is not available. The foundation uses the funds to support state and local health departments in the U.S. as well as support the global response including logistics, personal protective equipment, and critical response supplies.
As the number of coronavirus cases increases in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood and platelets for patients in need could decrease further, the Red Cross said. The organization is urging all eligible, healthy donors to donate blood and platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply flow and avoid potential shortages.
This organization is supporting local nonprofits in areas with a high number of affected individuals and vulnerable populations to help them support hourly wage earners, gig economy workers, immigrant populations, older adults, people with disabilities, and other communities vulnerable to the physical, mental, and economic impacts of the pandemic.
This fundraising site has started a general relief fund to directly support those affected by the pandemic and organizations working to keep people safe, find a cure, or support their communities. GoFundMe is also a major helper in raising money on behalf of Food Bank for New York City, which will help adults and children in the city who are most affected by the outbreak.
This international organization is helping to protect vulnerable children and families by training health teams across the world on protection and prevention. The organization is supplying personal protective equipment and other supplies to help health staffers on the front lines of fighting the outbreaks.
The United Nations Children’s Fund is sending supplies and support to save and protect vulnerable children affected by the coronavirus.
Donations to this U.S.-based organization’s coronavirus relief fund will help local organizations in affected areas meet immediate needs for health care, food, and water and transition to longer-term education and recovery efforts.
Helping others is always a good idea, but when a disaster strikes it becomes immeasurably more important. That’s why we give to our local food bank regularly.
Your first obligation is to take care of yourself and your family, but after that is secured, it is imperative to think about others who simply can’t do that. The help has been left to a core of first responders and heroic people willing to help despite these dangers.
One of the main lessons we are quickly learning right now is that whatever we do affects everyone else. Practicing physical distancing protects you and others and it’s a responsible action that won’t help spread this disease. But, you can see so far not everyone truly gets that and some have to be ordered to comply with it.
Please be very careful, stay home if you can, and stay safe and healthy. For more information on the COVID-19 coronavirus and how to protect yourself and your community, see the CDC website and the WHO website.