25% Increase Over Previous Year’s Record Keeps Pace With Covid-19-Related Demand
The network of 200 nonprofits that are supplied by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania has never turned away someone in need of food assistance due to lack of supply. In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020, it took a 25% increase in distribution over the prior year to continue its 38-year streak of increases over the prior year to keep pace with the need in the six counties served by the program run by the Community Action Lehigh Valley.
Despite the ravages of the deadly coronavirus, Second Harvest was able to continue to increase the distribution of more nutritious fresh products, including 1.3 million pounds of fruits and vegetables and 17,000 gallons of milk. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Food Bank also provided a monthly box of food, popularly called “Sunshine Boxes,” funded by the federal Commodities Supplemental Feeding Program, to 2,400 low-income seniors (27,557 boxes total) and a weekly package of food to 865 low-income school children to help them bridge the gap between Friday’s school lunch program and Monday’s school breakfast.
Second Harvest’s network has been serving more than 60,000 people each month; since the start of the pandemic, that rose to 79,000 people, a 31% increase. More than half of the people served are children or seniors.
Throughout the crisis, many people who had never imagined needing to visit a food pantry suddenly found themselves without a job and in need of food assistance for the first time. To meet the rapidly rising demand, the Food Bank quickly pivoted, pre-packing boxes of food and creating hubs in the community for mass distribution. Though the number of families visiting food pantries has recently leveled off, the Food Bank is bracing once again for a new surge in demand due to the expiration of special unemployment benefits available from the Coronavirus
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Katarah Jordan, director of the Second Harvest Food Bank, said, “It is distressing to see so many people facing an inability to afford rent or a mortgage payment and having to turn to a food pantry to keep from going hungry. Most try to do all they can to avoid asking for help. Thankfully, their neighbors provide the support enables us to meet that need. We wish people didn’t need us but we are grateful that people who don’t even know them step up to make sure they have some food in their cupboards. The generosity of this community is, simply, incredible.”
About the Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania
Established by the Community Action Lehigh Valley in 1982, the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania’s mission is to obtain food and distribute it to people in need through area nonprofits and to provide resources for education and advocacy to end hunger. Second Harvest operates in a six-county service area comprised of Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, and Wayne counties. It has distributed more than 150 million pounds of food to people in need through its network of more than 200 nonprofit agencies that include emergency food pantries and meal centers as well as homeless shelters, childcare agencies, addiction treatment programs and just about any agency that feeds people as part of their operation. Collectively, this network serves more than 60,000 people each month.
Second Harvest operates The Seed Farm, which trains aspiring farmers in the business of farming. It offers supplemental nutrition programs for children (Backpack Buddies) senior citizens (SUNShine Boxes) and active-duty military, reservists, and veterans (MilitaryShare), It helps families access SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits, Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters™ nutrition education program, and anti-hunger advocacy initiatives. Second Harvest is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, and largest hunger-relief organization. For every $1 donated, Second Harvest can provide six meals to our neighbors in need. Learn more at shfblv.org