The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank distributed 50 percent more pounds of food than usual in the last four weeks.
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Demand for food assistance is rising at an astounding rate. Some local food pantries are serving three times more people, with limited volunteers due to social distancing efforts.
Thousands of more families are seeking help from organizations like the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Larry Wasser, a volunteer, has never seen anything like this.
“Oh no. This is incredible,” said Wasser. “We’re working really hard. I’ve never worked so hard at the Food Bank. We’re trying to get as much out as possible, but the teamwork is really good.”
Food Bank volunteers pack roughly 5,000 boxes of food every day.
“That’s about four tractor trailer loads of Crisis Response boxes going out and that’s over and above what we normally do,” explained Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central PA Food Bank.
It has become a challenge to find more suppliers. Grocery stores have less to donate as shelves are picked clean, constricting supply. Staff at the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster (CAP) have had to buy the food it would normally receive in order to help its 33 partner pantries.
“We went from pre-packing zero boxes in our food distribution center to about 1,000 to 1,200 a week,” said Kim Sullenberger, Impact Team Leader for Health and Nutrition at CAP. “And we’ll probably increase that to 2,000 and 3,000 a week as this gets rolling.”
Sullenberger said hardworking volunteers are taking every precaution in the packing and delivery system as they prepare for what lies ahead.
“We’re also looking to the future. What if we need to do three, four, five times more than what we are doing now? What does that look like and what do we need to get it done,” stated Sullenberger.
Local organizations have been able to keep up with the high demand thanks to dedicated staff and volunteers, like Wasser. However, Wasser said they desperately need more help.
“Everybody knows why we’re doing it. Everybody is working really hard and, probably the most important thing, everybody is listening to the required protocol,” Wasser said.
To limit exposure to COVID-19, the Central PA Food Bank is using its Virtual Food Drive to collect monetary donations. To learn how to donate, click here.