Food banks work to keep up with demand as COVID-19 pandemic continues

SPOKANE, Wash. — Hunger has always been a problem across the Inland Northwest. This pandemic has only made matters worse.

With the second wave of closures, employees at local food banks expect the need to continue growing.

“The need has been enormous,” said Kevin Williams, Community Partnership Director for Second Harvest.

It’s a need that keeps on growing.

“We’re really thankful that the generosity of the people in this region have more than stepped up to the task,” said Williams.

Since the start of this pandemic, several volunteer organizations have made it their mission to make sure no one goes hungry. Second Harvest is one of them.

“One of the best ways to think about Second Harvest is as the food bank for food banks,” said Williams.

Williams says during the pandemic, their procurement and distribution has nearly doubled.

“A lot of the people rely on their local food pantries. Those food pantries will rely on us from anywhere from 20-70% of their food,” Williams said.

Food pantries themselves have also seen a huge increase.

“That’s really where we’re seeing our biggest leap is folks that have never needed it and are now needing it,” said Angie Kelleher, Director of Development for Spokane Valley Partners.

Partners says their food bank saw a 50% increase in new clients since the start of this pandemic.

“Families are having to make really difficult decisions. A decision from having to feed your family, to keeping your child healthy,” said Kelleher.

They decided to launch a mobile distribution back in September. It’s already brought in nearly 1,500 families.

“The mobile food bank obviously offers some anonymity and I think clients probably kind of appreciate that at this time,” Kelleher said.

Although it hasn’t been easy, their mission is to make sure no family is left behind.

“We’ve been working double time to get whatever food we can because we know the need is going to continue,” said Williams.