Coronavirus emergency causing shortage at local food banks

The coronavirus is having an impact on what people put on their dining room tables, as food banks are short on donations, money and volunteers.

At Volunteers of America food bank in Everett, shoppers are now banned from directly taking food off shelves within the facility. Instead, gloved volunteers retrieve items and hand shoppers any food items that are requested.

“Sometimes people don’t understand that you’re the person who has to touch the food nowadays because the virus,” said volunteer Tahee Shephard.

At Volunteers of America food bank alone, money from some donors has plunged 50%.

For the food that does come in, there are far fewer people to stock the shelves.

“It’s a balance and dynamic,” said Kristi Myers, chief development officer at Volunteers of America in western Washington. “Social distancing is a thing, so big groups that we’ve counted on are not able to come into the food bank.”

In normal times, a typical Wednesday would see around 20 volunteers.

Today, it was half that.

“When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, we all just have to pitch in, and it takes a little longer to get things done,” said Chris Hatch, with Hunger Prevention Services.

Volunteers who did show up, like Shephard, were on overdrive.

“I grew up in these streets,” he told KIRO 7 News. “A lot of these people, they’re here, too, so whatever it means, we all gotta eat.”

The food bank is now beefing up partnerships with grocery stores across western Washington.

It’s valuable support as supplies run low.

To donate or volunteer at Volunteers of America’s Everett food bank, visit https://www.voaww.org/.

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