Food Bank of Delaware promises to meet holiday demand despite price hikes, supply shortage
After Delawareans sought assistance from food banks in record numbers during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the facilities are preparing for another surge in demand this holiday season and promise to provide help to those who need it — despite soaring prices and supply shortages.
While the economy has picked back up since this time last year, economic hardships persist in new ways. Rising prices of goods — including meat — on top of soaring gas prices and a stunted supply chain have collided with the aftereffects of lost income during the pandemic.
Many residents are still struggling to catch up on unpaid bills over the last year and a half, which was only exacerbated by the state's delayed response in doling out unemployment benefits and other aid, officials said.
"I think people are now starting to look forward the next month or getting through this spring and saying, 'Am I going to be able to afford both? Or do I have to choose between putting gas in my car or food on my table?'" said Cathy Kanefsky, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Delaware.
COVID-19 cases are rising again as temperatures cool, which may deter some people from even going to the grocery store at all, she said.
Supply chain shortages have caused some minor roadblocks for the Food Bank, forcing them to find an alternative brand, such as fruit cups and diapers. About a month ago, for example, one of their chefs said for the first time in his career he could not get American cheese, Kanefsky said.
So far, the organization isn't facing shortages of meat staples, such as turkey, and partners with the Food Bank have helped chip in. Giant Foods, for example, recently donated 1,000 turkeys, and Purdue Farms recently donated hundreds of chicken roasters.
"We're not hurting to a point that we're not going to be able to serve our neighbors," said Kanefsky about the food bank, which will be home through Wednesday this week.
"I don't think the supply chain is going to keep food from getting on folks' tables. I think the economic inability to pay for the food is. And that's a bit of an easier one for us to be able to help with."
The Food Bank has not had to make any budget cuts, and instead has been able to rely more on philanthropy, Kanfesky said.
"I don't want to give the impression that we've got it all under control," she said. "But we will not leave someone that needs our help unserved."
In fall 2020, the food bank paid $324,267 for food at $1.05 per pound. So far this fall, they paid $459,943 for food at $1.16 per pound — an increase of over $100,000 and counting.
Higher gas prices have also put an extra $10,000-plus dent in the food bank's wallet compared with 2020. For the organization's 28 vehicles, they have paid $19,510 for gas this fall compared with $8,939 last year.
Demand at the Food Bank appears to be lower than last year, but still higher than years prior. Kanefsky said she expects that trend to continue throughout the fall and winter, partly because the pandemic made more people aware of their services and because she expects a new wave of people seeking help.
Recent statistics on the amount of food distributed from the Healthy Pantry Center in Glasgow showed demand appears to be dropping compared with 2020, though it's still noticeably higher than 2019:
- September 2019 - 95,516 pounds
- September 2020 - 272,955 pounds
- September 2021 - 114,106 pounds
- October 2019 - 117,254 pounds
- October 2020 - 227,990 pounds
- October 2021 - 175,661 pounds
How to get assistance
The Food Bank of Delaware's Healthy Pantry Centers at their Glasgow and Milford facilities are open on Tuesday and will close early on Wednesday.
Residents who are not near Glasgow or Milford can reach out to Delaware 211 by calling that number to locate a food pantry near their home.
Glasgow pantry, 222 Lake Drive:
The pantry is open from 7:30 a.m. to noon and from 1:15 to 3 p.m. It will close at noon on Wednesday and reopen on Monday.
Visitors are asked to enter through the back entrance near the loading docks and park in the spots near the loading dock. Someone will come out to your vehicle.
Milford pantry, 1040 Mattlind Way:
The pantry is open from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It will close at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday and reopen on Monday.
Visitors are asked to pull up to the door with the green awning. Someone will come out to your vehicle.
Contact Sarah Gamard at email@example.com or (302) 324-2281.
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