In a normal year, Rodriguez’s organization provides food for some 50 million meals through a network of 1,000 pantries, food kitchens and other affiliates. But the pandemic meant that some of his bigger food pantries saw 50% more traffic almost overnight. And people who had previously donated food were now, for the first time in their lives, asking for help feeding their families.
The disaster-like level of need is only one problem. Panic shopping by consumers has left grocery stores with little left over to donate, Rodriguez said, leaving the Community FoodBank without its most reliable supply of provisions. To keep feeding its clients, he said, his organization has been forced to vie with national grocery chains to buy basic items, paying 15% more than only a month or so ago.
Rodriguez estimates the Community FoodBank has clear access to about two and a half weeks of food. “I have to tell you, we are week by week,” he said. “The need keeps compounding.”