Even With An Increased Demand During The Pandemic, Food Banks Finding Ways To Keep Up

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Under the morning sun, hundreds of cars lined up at Clayton Academy on the city’s North Side.

“Struggling a little bit but it is what it is,” Dean Payne of Troy Hill said in line.

All looking for a helping hand during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Look around. A lot of us really need this hand out,” North Sider Stephen George said while pointing to the other cars waiting.

412 Food Rescue organizers said food distributions are almost a weekly occurrence now because of the pandemic. The group has given out more than 500,000 pounds of food the last few months.

“It’s really challenging but at the end of the day, it’s something that we can all smile about,” Luke Hirata with 412 Food Rescue said.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank said it has given out more than 14 million pounds of food during the pandemic. Their fiscal year just wrapped up. According to the organization, this past year it provided five million more meals than the previous fiscal year.

“We distribute an enormous amount of food annually on a regular basis, but that is very much an increase from what we were anticipating serving,” the food bank’s Chief Development Officer Charla Irwin-Buncher said at their Duquesne facility.

Their busiest time of the year is usually the summer and holiday season.

“It is our goal to raise additional funds to make sure we can provide that critical holiday service,” Irwin-Buncher said.

In the food distribution Saturday morning, the 412 Food Rescue volunteers gave away more than six thousand pounds of food to the hundreds of cars in line.

“Usually at the end of it we have write down names and then go to home deliveries the next day,” Hirata said while preparing to serve the cars waiting.

The food bank said it expects to see a higher demand for food for at least 18 months after the crisis ends. Currently, it has a strong food supply as it has planned 14 distributions this month.

“Support from the community is what enables us to do this work so folks have been supporting us at a very generous level,” Irwin-Buncher told KDKA.

“Let’s you know you’re really not out there by yourself and there’s still programs that can help,” Keith McDaniel from the North Side said while waiting.

If you are interested in donating to local food banks, check out Pittsburgh Food Bank and 412 Food Rescue‘s websites.