Kait Bowdler, director of sustainability for Philabundance, likens the challenge to running both a sprint and a marathon, where the sprint involves maintaining a plentiful food supply at a time when the need has never been greater.
“About half the people who are seeking an emergency food system right now are people who have never needed food like that. So for them it can be a really confusing and frustrating time,” Bowdler said.
At the same time, there are currently fewer food banks out there.
Bowdler says about 70 of the agencies Philabundance serves have closed since last month. The agency is purchasing more food at the moment because donations in certain areas have gone down.
“Right now donations of canned goods and shelf stable items, so rice, pasta, all the things that you’re probably shopping for right now, those items are extremely hard for us to find. So we are trying to purchase those items more than we would normally,” she said.
The wait times for delivery for those items and others is three to four weeks.
The marathon Bowdler refers to involves planning for the long-term impact of the pandemic. She believes it could be a year or more before they catch up, for a number of reasons.
“So many people are going unemployed right now and even when they’re back on the job, if they get a job back, they’re still going to have to be paying for the rent that’s been building up during this time,” she said.