Leading the new fight on hunger
In the past two weeks we have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for our services. We anticipate that need will grow exponentially as schools remain closed and paychecks disappear. As a supporter of the Food Bank, we wanted to give you an inside look at what it’s like to lead in a crisis and adapt our services to the ever-changing new normal.
What have been your biggest obstacles in getting food out to the people who need it? Initially, the biggest obstacle we faced was the fact that many of our core volunteers are in a vulnerable age group and could no longer help. It has been incredible to see our calls to the community for more volunteers being answered. We also needed to implement new safety measures at hundreds of direct food distributions to make sure that staff, volunteers, and clients are maintaining social distancing. One way we achieved this was by developing drive-thru food pickups! Additionally, we continue to work closely with our vast network of partner agencies to help them stay open in order to maximize our collective outreach.
You started your new role as Programs Director on March 2nd. Two weeks into your job, our community was in a shelter in place. What has that been like?
It has been quite an onboarding for sure as COVID-19 presents unique challenges! Thankfully, my background in nonprofit leadership taught me to be resourceful and flexible when navigating whatever needs and obstacles arise. I also want to say I have felt so supported by everyone coming onboard in the midst of this crisis. The staff and volunteers here are so driven by the mission to serve others that they are willing to really go the extra mile to help out.
What might our supporters find surprising about the people attending our food distributions?
I remember meeting a woman at one of our Community Produce Program distributions who had just come from work as a cashier at a high-end specialty grocery store. She shared with me that she had just spent the day helping customers who were able to fill up their carts with food, but having fallen on hard times, she couldn’t afford to do the same. She was used to being a donor, not a recipient of Food Bank services. Her experience really resonated with me in how everyone’s situations are so fragile and with some bad luck or a layoff, anyone could be in a situation without enough food to eat. Sadly, more and more people are finding themselves in this woman’s shoes because of the economic impact of COVID-19.
Read more interviews from some of our leaders during this crisis:
- Hisham Hamdy – Operations Director
- Kim Castaneda – Development Director
- Joel Sjostrom – President and CEO
- Lisa Sherrill – Communications Director