Food Banks Need Volunteers as COVID-19 Increases Demand But Restricts Groups

By Recker McDowell —

The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 have increased community demand at food banks across the country.

St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix and other food banks across Arizona are also challenged.

Jerry Brown, director of media relations at St. Mary’s, said demand for emergency food boxes and other help tripled when COVID-19 started, and scores of jobs were at least temporarily lost.

Brown said while some of those impacted workers have gone back to work community needs are still great.

He said the Phoenix food bank distributes 45,000 emergency food boxes each month to residents and families in need.

But St. Mary’s and other food banks are also challenged with volunteers because of COVID-19.  Volunteers groups from businesses, schools and churches are not able to help as much because of COVID.

Brown said the Arizona National Guard has been helping pack food boxes, but that effort will soon end.

That has St. Mary’s and other food banks relying more on individual volunteers to come and help. Brown said the Phoenix bank offers masks, social distancing and volunteers will not deal with the public. “It’s all secure and safe,” he said.

Brown said typically there are set shifts available for volunteers, but they can help out longer also. St. Mary’s Food Bank has locations where volunteers can help in Phoenix and Surprise.

You can find more information on volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank here.

There were another 4,237 new COVID-19 cases and 92 new deaths in Arizona reported today. The statewide total is now 128,097 cases and 2,337 deaths. The virus continues to exact public health and economic tolls.

It is also hitting nonprofits and charities hard with fewer donations, greater needs and impacts on volunteers.

We can and should help food banks and other nonprofits on the frontlines of helping our community either through volunteering or donations.