The season of giving has come, and food pantries and other anti-hunger organizations are seeing a surge in demand for services. They’re enlisting the Bay Staters’ help to ensure no one goes hungry this holiday season.
“Before the pandemic, 2019 was our busiest year, serving 204,000 meals. Last year, we served 793,000 meals,” said Diane Cozia Hills, CEO of My Brother’s Table in Lane. “Last year, we served 793,000 meals, and I think this year it will probably serve About 900,000 meals.” “This is really because of the epidemic.”
Cozia Hills said many of My Brother’s Table customers, who can get packed lunches or hot dinners there, are still affected by the pandemic layoffs, and “were already on the knife edge before COVID” in making ends meet. “A lot of them are now in a situation where they are trying to pay off their debts because they have been laid off for so long, so all of their money is going to pay the bills that are past due.”
Others struggle with the cost Record-breaking inflation, which particularly affects elderly or disabled people with a fixed income. Still others live in one-bedroom or single-room homes without access to the kitchen, so they can’t prepare a hot meal for themselves.
To offset the increased service needs, Kuzia Hills said people could be more helpful by donating money, which helps the organization pay its bills, and also allows it to buy food at low prices “so we can make the dollar stretch a little bit,” she said. She said my brother’s table could Volunteers are also used.
Inflation and supply chain problems are also depleting warehouse budgets.
Prices for turkey are inflated by 15%, squash by 17%, sweet potatoes by 28%, and frozen and canned vegetables by 9%, said Sheryl Schondek, executive vice president of operations at The Greater Boston Food Bank.
A national shortage of aluminum cans is causing problems finding canned cranberry sauce, so the organization is making its own can — a first for the Boston Food Bank.
She requested traditional pantry items: nutrient-rich, shelf-stable items, plus financial donations and volunteers to help serve the 600,000 people a month helped by GBFB.
Irene McClear, CEO of Project Bread, noted that the holidays tend to be a time of great need for families, with heating bills and gift expenses increasing, especially for families with children.
Although food and paper items like diapers have always been needed, McAleer suggested donating money or food gift cards instead. She said those in need often prefer gift cards as it allows them to shop with dignity as well as to buy foods suitable for their tastes, lifestyles and nutritional needs.
Although these donations are appreciated this holiday season and all year round, “the magnitude of this crisis is greater than relying solely on people donating food alone,” she said.
She added, “We need you to engage in advocacy work, we want you to raise awareness of the solutions, and we want you to contact the legislator in your state, contact your congressman and make sure they understand the solution.” “The solution to hunger is bigger than donations. It is really about changing policy.”