Volunteers Wanted at Walnut Creek Area Food Banks

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WALNUT CREEK, CA – Food banks and pantries in Walnut Creek and other cities across the United States are in dire need of volunteers as the highly contagious variant of the omicron coronavirus continues to infect Americans.

This is an unfortunate challenge, as many pantries are already struggling with increased needs as well as rising costs for food and other goods.

Food banks have seen a 55% increase in use during the pandemic, according to the latest data from Feeding America, wiping out a decade of progress toward ending hunger in the United States.

The shortage of volunteers became evident on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when food banks across the country traditionally hold massive volunteer campaigns as part of a day of service, according to an Associated Press report. This year, many food banks canceled their plans or continued despite having considerably fewer volunteers than before the pandemic.

Volunteers have always been an “essential lifeline” for food banks and pantries, Kathryn Strickland, network manager at Feeding America, told Patch in a statement.

“The majority – 51% – of food programs rely solely on volunteers, and the pandemic has interrupted our daily connection with friends and neighbors who volunteer their time to make a difference in their communities,” Strickland said. “As food banks continue to weather the perfect storm of supply chain disruptions and heightened needs from the pandemic, many are welcoming volunteers back into their operations and appealing for more help.”

Prior to the pandemic, nearly 2 million volunteers provided more than 8.4 million hours of assistance across the Feeding America network. About half of Feeding America’s 200 pantries have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers.

Food banks typically use volunteers to sort donations and pack boxes of ready-made produce for distribution. It’s common to have local businesses or schools send large groups of volunteers, but many of those groups have also pulled out of helping, the AP reported.

Vince Hall, government relations manager for Feeding America, said the number of volunteers partly reflects emotional fatigue and long-term burnout. As the country goes through its second pandemic winter and the omicron variant undoes some of the progress people have expected from the vaccine, longtime volunteers are running out.

“These people who are really part of the foundation of our volunteer workforce, they’ve been doing that since March 2020,” Hall told the AP. “It has an emotional impact on people.”

How to volunteer

As of September 2021, nearly 80% of Feeding America food banks are accepting new volunteers, according to the organization. Here is a sample of the work you could do:

  • Keep pantry shelves stocked and assemble boxes of food for pickup.
  • Help raise funds or raise awareness of pantry services.
  • Deliver meals or food baskets.
  • Assist with distribution in drive-thru or mobile pantries.

To volunteer, here are the nearest pantry at Walnut Creek.

Feeding America serves 200 member food banks that serve and supply 60,000 pantries, kitchens and meal programs across the country.

FINDING FOOD
Find your local food bank

MAKE A DONATION
Donate to Feeding America*

READ
“The impact of the coronavirus on food insecurity”

ACT
Act against hunger

Credit: Patch Photo/Shutterstock

Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that by 2021 more than 42 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Social Good Patch project; Feeding America receives 100% of donations.* Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.

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