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Virtual food pantries providing relief for families during COVID-19 pandemic

Virtual food pantries providing relief for families during COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 4:40 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 09:30:23-05

Like many things during the pandemic, a lot of food pantries have gone online.

“On the food and fundraising side, online has really been a lifesaver for many food banks,” Zuani Villarreal, Direcortor of Communications at Feeding America.

Feeding America says food pantries have changed with the drop in volunteers and pop-up mobile distribution sites.

Now, they're putting a bigger focus on online fundraising.

“Any time that there is a food drive and there's food collected and donated from the public that has to be sorted, that has to be inspected to make sure it’s safe for distribution,” said Villarreal.

Virtual food drives are a lot like online shopping. People can select the products online that they want to buy to donate. And then, the food pantry places an order once they have enough.

Many local food drives are planning virtual events for the holidays, which is a critical time.

A lot of what is raised now helps support them through the year.

More Americans need help now than ever. Some 35 million people were facing hunger pre-COVID-19. Feeding America says it's 50 million now.

It took a decade after the last recession to get those numbers back down.

“Food banks have been running on kind of a disaster response mode since March and long-term, its not sustainable,” said Villarreal.

Individuals and organizations can host their own virtual food drive or fundraiser.

The food bank for New York City makes it competitive with a leader board and says every $1 raised helps provide five meals.

You can find a local food bank at FeedingAmerica.org.