WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Leaders from food banks across our region tell Newswatch 16 they've never been as busy as they are now.
"Well, we've seen unprecedented numbers of people come in because so many people have been affected by this COVID-19 emergency, and they've been affected by being unemployed and without the wherewithal to buy food," said Weinberg/CEO Northeastern Food Bank executive director Gene Brady.
"In rural America, the economic crisis that's rolled out with the health crisis is immense, so our northern-central counties have really been impacted," explained executive director of the Central PA Food Bank Joe Arthur. "We're distributing at least 50% more food than we were before the crisis. Thousands of new families, many of whom have never come to a pantry before, so this is really unprecedented."
AllOne Foundation, a health care philanthropy based in Wilkes-Barre, has stepped in to help these food banks keep up with demand.
"AllOne Foundation board of directors expedited a $1 million grant today so that we can get food out to the front lines to help our families, our friends, and our neighbors in northeastern and north-central Pennsylvania," said AllOne CEO John Cosgrove.
The $1 million private grant will be split between the Weinberg/CEO Northeastern Food Bank, the Central PA Food Bank, and Second Harvest Food Bank and will support these banks, as well as the food pantries and school-distribution programs they partner with.
"This leadership gift from AllOne early in the crisis is very important," added Arthur.
Leaders in food insecurity want everyone to know they can help if you need someone to turn to.
"No one should be ashamed to use help. What we're learning in this pandemic and the economic crisis is that anybody can be impacted at any time. This pandemic is really making things hard for people who never thought of us before," said Arthur.
If you want to learn more about volunteer, donation, or food pickup opportunities with these food banks, you can find links to their websites below.