The Cost of Compassion: Funding the COVID-19 Crisis Response of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
HARRISBURG (April 3, 2020) – This week, another generous business leader announced a significant donation to help the millions of Americans who face food insecurity. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com gave $100 million to Feeding America to assist its 200-member food banks in their response to the COVID-19 crisis. As a proud member of Feeding America, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank will receive a portion of the funds.
“We are extremely thankful to Mr. Bezos for his major gift to Feeding America in this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” said Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “With unemployment claims rising dramatically, we know many Pennsylvanians will be facing food insecurity; and for of lot of them it will be the first time. We are here to help feed their families; but we can’t do it alone.”
“Our crisis response is vigorous and necessary,” added Arthur. “But much of the expense burden of acquiring food and supplies and keeping our operations running squarely falls on our Food Bank. We urgently need our local supporters to continue blessing us with their financial donations. Our crisis response to our neighbors in need will be measured in months, not weeks. And we are thankful that our donors are responding with their support in real time….today is the right day to give.”
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank distributed 35 percent more pounds of food this March than it did this time last year. And demand is growing. Some larger partner agencies reported three times the number of clients using their food pantries in the past two weeks compared to prior weeks. To keep up with the need for food and to better accommodate safe, social distancing for volunteers and staff, the Food Bank moved its packing operation to a larger facility off site. Much of its supply of shelf-stable, non-perishable products are being packaged into 30-pound crisis response boxes. Volunteers put together 4,500 – 5,000 boxes per day, which is more than twice the volume of food boxes packed prior to the crisis, and we expect this volume to increase as more truckloads arrive at the center from our food industry partners and the USDA. Due to COVID-19 protocol requirements, the Food Bank will not be accepting food from food drives or households during the crisis.
The crisis response food boxes make it easier for the food pantries to distribute with limited or no person-to-person contact using a drive-through or curbside pick-up model. Most pantries also give frozen meat, fresh produce, and milk and eggs too.
People in need of food assistance can use the “Find Food” feature on the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s website to see a list of pantries or soup kitchens in their zip code – www.centralpafoodbank.org. Or they can call the helpline at 1-877-999-5964.
Financial donations are greatly needed and can be made online at www.centralpafoodbank.org.
“Jeff Bezos isn’t the only one who can make a difference,” said Arthur. “The kind and generous people of Central Pennsylvania are truly the reason why we can be there when food assistance is needed. With our massive scale of food sourcing, we can leverage each $1 dollar of donation into multiple meals. Thank you to everyone who makes a life-sustaining gift to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Fighting hunger is hard work, but as a community we do it better together.”
About the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank:
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce hunger in 27 counties across Pennsylvania. By working with more than 1,000 local agencies and partner programs, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves more than 135,000 people in need every month. For more information on the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and its mission to reduce hunger in Pennsylvania, visit centralpafoodbank.org or call 717-564-1700.