COVID-19 Food Needs in Alameda County
Fellow Zontians and Friends of Zonta
Our members of Zonta Club of Berkeley/North Bay and Beyond care about women and girls and their families during this serious time dealing with COVID-19.
The message below is from Katherine Avila, the Food and Fund Drive Coordinator of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
As you know, everyone is being impacted by this unprecedented health emergency. As “front line” support, the food bank is faced with challenges we have never experienced before as well. How I wish that I could give you a dollar-to-meal equivalent right now, but there are so many pressure points that we have stopped using our old metrics to describe our work. For now, the best estimate I can give you is that an emergency bag of food (3,000 of which we produce every day) will help feed a family of 4 for about 3 days. Each bag costs around $ 25.00.
We’re seeing a surge in need, and we have increased our food distribution to meet this growing need. We are regularly distributing more than 1 million pounds of food per week, a 50%+ increase from before the COVID-19 crisis. We are now spending $ 1 million dollars a month in food purchases and we’re providing enough food to serve more than 60,000 people daily. We are partnering with over 200 agencies and 11 school districts to help meet the needs of our neighbors.
Many key items – rice, beans and canned tuna – are costing 40% to 75% higher than before this crisis. These increases are reflective of market conditions during COVID-19 where demand is far outpacing the food supply. To prepare for potential food shortages, we have extended our food purchase horizon into the future, in some case doubling food purchases of many key items. Should there be a surge in infection rates of COVID 19 in the winter months, ACCFB intends to be ready to meet the nutrition needs of our community, because we believe that access to healthful food is a basic human right.
This will be a prolonged response. Even if a vaccine for COVID-19 were available today, the economic devastation to our community is unprecedented. According to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, those who make less than $ 40,000 a year currently have an unemployment rate of 40%. So many hard working people are being tested as never before, as are their families. As unemployment benefits hang in the balance at the Federal level, and with the rent moratorium scheduled to end on September 30th, there will many more new clients for the food bank to nourish.
We’ve learned from past emergencies (e.g., the Great Recession, the government shutdown, the wine country wild fires), even after something like a shelter-in-place order is lifted and life begins to look and feel more like normal, it will take months—even years—for people affected to be fully back on their feet. We are committed to being here for our community now and into the foreseeable future.
Support from our community partners will help us to fulfill our mission so that no one in Alameda County has to worry about where their next meal is coming from. As hard as we work at the food bank, we cannot assist our community in isolation. Any support that your Zonta Club can lend would be wonderful.
Zonta Team Members and friends let’s do what we can to support those who are in need of food in our community.
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