After Anne Arundel County Food Bank’s largest spring food drive was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic for a second year, the bank is struggling to continue supplying donations for an increase in demand.
The National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive that’s normally held in the spring has been canceled for a second year.
“Food drives are still being canceled and unfortunately I don’t know when we will get these large drives back on track,” said Susan Thomas, director of Anne Arundel County Food Bank. “The postal service didn’t do theirs because it is a national drive and wasn’t safe for them to do so and we understand everyone being safe but it did create challenges.”
Throughout Anne Arundel County, letter carriers and postal workers from 18 post offices collected on average 40,000 pounds of food each year for the county food bank prior to the pandemic. The loss of the largest spring drive comes at a time when the food bank is working to maintain a 350% increase in the number of Anne Arundel County residents relying on food from pantries to feed their families.
Thomas is hoping into the fall more drives will pick up. Usually, the food bank would have a list of items they need, but they still need everything, Thomas said. Diapers and baby food are in high demand.
The food bank has given out over 6.3 million pounds of food since March 2020 and still serving 60,000 households a month, Thomas said. The food bank expects the need to persist at high levels for at least another year.
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People think since COVID-19 restrictions have relaxed and more people are working, the need for food pantries would decrease but Thomas said it is the opposite.
“If you been out of work for six months or longer, anytime you experience financial insecurities, it takes six months to a year to get back on your feet,” Thomas said. “They might have back rent or anything, so it takes a while to be self-sufficient again.”
Three tractor-trailers come to the food bank weekly, which is just enough food for one week, Thomas said.
Thomas is waiting to see what the budget will be for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“We are trying to raise revenue to purchase food and supplement the food drives we missed,” Thomas said. “With COVID, it is hard to project anything. We are trying to prepare ourselves for the best and worst-case scenarios. The vaccinations have definitely helped.”
The community has been a big help with volunteering and helping distribute or organize food. The food bank is accepting volunteers in small groups and if anyone wants to volunteer, call them at 410-923-4255.
The food bank has implemented several alternatives to make it easier to donate. Their website includes links where you can purchase the most needed food items through Target or Amazon, which is then delivered directly to the food bank. Additionally, the food is accepting monetary donations to purchase food from distributors at discounted prices. Donations can be made by texting FOOD to 41444 or going to the website at aafoodbank.org/donate.