Virginia’s food banks are currently taking collective action — including requesting local, state, and federal support to address food security challenges — amidst the current public health crisis. It is expected that COVID-19, already a global pandemic, will continue to spread widely throughout Virginia. The impact on hunger in the Commonwealth is likely to be severe and far-reaching. School closures will cause students to lose access to free and reduced-price meals, which is often their only consistent source of quality nutrition. Virginia’s food banks are also concerned that many part-time and hourly workers, who already struggle to make ends meet, will see a reduction in their hours and income, if not the loss of their jobs altogether.
Some actions that Virginia’s food banks are currently taking include:
- Adjusting distribution models to emphasize low-touch and no-touch food distributions, drive-through pick-ups and appointment-based services
- Identifying opportunities to provide “to-go” meals through drop locations targeted to school-age children and vulnerable populations in order to promote social distancing
- Packaging additional privately funded, non-perishable foods to distribute to older adults
- Enhancing sanitizing practices within warehouses, instituting telework options where possible, and requiring waivers for volunteers to minimize spread of the virus while still addressing the need for as many hands on deck as possible to distribute additional food.
Food banks rely heavily on volunteers to maintain operations. If you are healthy and able, we encourage you to respond in this time of great need. High school and college students, reach out to your food banks to volunteer.
The Federation of Virginia Food Banks reminds displaced workers, families, seniors and others that SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger and that they should apply for benefits online, by phone at 1-855-635-4370, or if necessary, in-person at their local Department of Social Services office.
The Virginia Department of Social Services has created a COVID-19 portal on its public website (https://www.dss.virginia.gov/geninfo/corona.cgi) where you can find the latest updates and resources as it relates to COVID-19 and guidance specific to the agency. The portal will be updated, as new information is available.
Source: Federation of Virginia Food Banks