Food banks dealing with demand increases across Delmarva

DELMARVA – As food prices rise and the COVID-19 pandemic continues, food banks are still trying to keep up with demand.

“Our mass distribution numbers are up last month. We anticipate they will likely be up again in November. So, we are definitely seeing that increased demand from folks that are looking for food assistance at this time,” said Director of External Affairs for the Food Bank of Delaware Chad Robinson.

Marylanders Rely On Food Bank

The Maryland Food Bank says they’re currently seeing a 50% increase in demand compared to pre-pandemic levels. “We were probably up around 80% when COVID was really at its peak,” said Maryland Food Bank CEO Carmen Del Guercio. “We are still seeing unprecedented levels, and we expect that to continue for an extended period here. I think there’s a number of people who are still struggling.”

Del Guercio says they’re dealing with the increased demand by looking at data community by community, and figuring out the unique needs across the state. After that, “We look at data points like unemployment claims, housing stability,” he said.

And as individuals deal with increased prices, Del Guercio says the food bank is navigating the hikes and supply chain strain as well. He says the food bank already spends tens of millions of dollars on food each year, and now they’re taking a closer look at that spending. “We’re trying to buy in volume and bulk as much as we can to reduce our costs,” said Del Guercio. “Most of that donated food comes from retailers and big box stores. Anybody who’s been in those locations is starting to see those shelves become pretty thin. So, we are starting to see some tightening on the donated food front.”

But Del Guercio says the challenges do have a silver lining. “On the purchasing side, it allows us to be much more intentional about the food that we buy, because we really want to focus and increase our attention on the quality of the food and the nutritional content,” he said.

Demand Continues In Delaware

In Delaware, food bank officials say that increased need is no different. “We know that those folks then are searching for ways to meet those food needs. We have seen the numbers at our healthy pantries center, which is our on site distribution location in both Newark and Milford have risen,” said Robinson.

Robinson says as the holiday season approaches, the Food Bank of Delaware is working extra hard to meet the needs of the state. “We want everyone to have the opportunity to have a Thanksgiving meal on their table and to celebrate with family and friends. No person, no matter what their economic status is, should be denied that opportunity,” he said.

If you’re considering donating food to the Food Bank of Delaware, there are certain items that tend to fly off the shelves pretty quickly. Those include spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, canned meats, cereal, and canned fruits and vegetables in natural juices. “Think about what you would like to eat. What would you want to see in your refrigerator if you opened it, or your cupboard when you look there?” said Robinson.

All Hands On Deck

If you’d like more information about donating to the Maryland Food Bank, click here. For more information on donating to the Food Bank of Delaware, click here. You can also find out more about how to get help from each organization on their respective websites.

Categories: Coronavirus, Delaware, Local News, Maryland