Feeding America announced the establishment of the COVID-19 Response Fund to help food banks across the country as they support communities impacted by the pandemic. The $2.65 million fund will enable food banks to secure the resources they need to serve the most vulnerable members of the community. Still, according to Feeding America, it’s impossible for the organization to address this pandemic without public and government support, so food banks can do what they do best—feed people in need within their communities.
COVID-19 can have a great impact on food insecure households, and with school closures, job disruptions, lack of paid sick leave and potential unexpected medical expenses, 40 percent of Americans don’t have enough cash on hand to cover a $400 emergency expense, according to the Federal Reserve.
In the face of these challenges, the Feeding America network of food banks is uniquely positioned to help people who need it most. According to the most recent United States Department of Agriculture food security report, more than 37 million people, 11 million of whom are children, face hunger. As one of the largest providers of charitable food assistance in the U.S., including in disaster and emergency situations, Feeding America provides more than 4.2 billion meals to people facing hunger each year.
“Our first priority is the millions of individuals, families and seniors who rely on food banks for help,” said Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot in a statement. “Our member food banks are always there to help throughout the year and in times of disaster. This fund will advance their ability to respond efficiently and effectively in their communities so that food is not added to the list of worries for families during this pandemic.”
Using the COVID-19 Response Fund, Feeding America is launching national food and fundraising efforts to support people facing hunger and the food banks that help them. This includes building an inventory of emergency food boxes and distributing them to member food banks across the country, as well as working to get incremental funding to support other anticipated costs. Feeding America also is working with government leaders to ensure the emergency response includes strong supports in food, funds and flexibility for federal nutrition programs.
Member food banks have started shifting operations, adding more mobile or “drive-thru” distributions wherever possible. In addition, food banks are working with partner food pantries and meal programs to minimize the risk of spreading the disease by scheduling appointments and suggesting that only one member of the household visit the pantry or distribution site in order to decrease the number of people congregating in one place.
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