Food banks’ and Methacton’s approaches to food shortages during the pandemic

By Sreekara Dandibhotla

COVID-19 led to 22 million lost jobs in the US, a majority of which are positions with low wages. What hit many Americans the hardest was not being able to acquire the basic necessity of food. 

Although hunger is not new in America, it has been on the rise because of the pandemic. Some 29 million adults in the U.S. have reported that they sometimes or often didn’t have enough food for seven days. This was far above the pre-pandemic rate which was around 3.4 percent of adults. When asked why they couldn’t get food, 84 percent said financial troubles were to blame.

As one might expect, families with children have reported much more hardships than those without as they would prioritize feeding children before the adults. Because of the lack of food, millions are turning to food banks and food pantries for help.

Methacton is doing its part to help in this time of need by giving no-cost meals. People can pick up meals every Monday via a curbside distribution. On the Methacton website, there is also a list of food pantries with contact information so students and parents can easily access resources.

In addition to curbside pickup food distribution, Methacton offers a Backpack Program for students in need for supplemental food and non-food items. These backpacks are supported by contributions. Anyone can contribute through a number of ways. 

One can contribute by donating to collection bins that are located at the High School’s East Wing. Donating by sending items from Amazon and money are also beneficial. Volunteers are also valued as they sort donated items and can help pack the bags for distribution.

“The pandemic has increased the demand for food assistance in communities that were already struggling, especially for people of color and low-income working families,” said Kyle Waide, CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, one of the largest food pantries in the country in a VOA article on Dec. 30. 

Nearly half of people who are coming to Waide’s food bank have never gone to a food bank before. 

“Across the country, we’re seeing about a 60 percent increase in the number of people going to food banks,” said Zuani Villarreal, communications director for Feeding America, a nationwide network for food banks in the United States in the same VOA article on Dec. 30.

Food insecurity in the United States has increased to the highest level than it’s ever been, and some food banks have had upwards of a 70 percent increase in the amount of food that they are providing. 

“A lot of the smaller food banks and charities in Central Pennsylvania have really struggled throughout COVID. Their main fundraisers have had to be canceled. So their budgets are tight,” said Linda Johnston, general manager for Renewal by Anderson, in a Local 21 article on Jan. 21.

Despite all the troubles that food banks have, there are efforts to help include donations and campaigns like Check Out Hunger. 

Recently, Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU) donated $10,000 to Central PA Food Bank stating that there are “food insecure families throughout the region.” 

Check out Campaign is another organization with similar goals to combat hunger. To start off their annual campaign in January, an anonymous donor contributed $25,000, and Tops Friendly Market, the managing group for this campaign, matched that.