In This Together: Responding to COVID-19 - Capital Area Food Bank
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In This Together: Responding to COVID-19

By cafb May 1, 2020

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been about eight weeks since the impacts of COVID-19 began to fundamentally shift the world around us. For the food bank, things have changed rapidly and significantly.

But even in these uncertain times, there’s one thing we know for sure: we couldn’t do this without our community. This support makes it possible for meals to reach those who need assistance and enables the planning and preparation needed to rise to this challenge in the months ahead.

Together with our supporters, we continue to respond to these extraordinary challenges, so that we can emerge a stronger and more resilient community. Read on to see how.

Ramping up and adapting to meet growing demand.

Though many partners have needed to suspend service, the CAFB has adapted its model to distribute both to its 200 network partners that are currently open, as well as to 20 Community Hubs that have committed to staying open alongside the food bank and at pop-up pantries on an as-needed basis. So far, the food bank has purchased over 100 truckloads of food – almost triple what we would ordinarily purchase in a normal year – to help keep food flowing to our partners who are seeing  anywhere from a 30-400% increase in those coming through their doors.

“Before this crisis, we were seeing approximately 300-400 families a week. Now, it is more like 1,200 families weekly. The demand from our community is palpable,” – St. Stephen’s Church in Camp Spring, MD.

Getting good food to children and families in need.

We’re continuing to serve children each week at 16 children’s meal sites across the region. The hot meal normally eaten on site has been replaced with a “to-go” meal that children can pick up and eat at home. Just last week, 6,000 meals went out to kids at program sites.

In partnership with Martha’s Table, the food bank also continues to support Joyful Food Markets at four school meal sites. Four days per week, 650 students and families at these markets take home ten-pound bags of healthy and nutritious produce to help supplement their meals during this crucial time.

Serving seniors in their communities and at home.

The CAFB provides critical nutrition to more than 10,000 seniors across the region through its Grocery Plus, My Groceries to Go, and Senior Brown Bag programs. We’re maintaining our deliveries to senior centers and have also launched pilot programs with local partners to offer deliveries directly to seniors’ homes. The Taxi Senior Food Delivery Program, launched in partnership with DC Health and the DC Department of For-Hire Vehicles will serve an estimated 1,000 seniors through May!

Providing thousands with emergency food assistance.

Since the beginning of COVID-19 disruptions, more than 1,500 volunteers have stepped up the plate to help us pack 10,000 25-lb emergency boxes of shelf-stable food. Thanks to their help, thousands of families across the region have received these boxes that contain the items needed to feed a family of four for up to five days.

In the coming weeks, volunteers will continue to help us pack more than 20,000 emergency boxes to support growing need in our communities.