BINGHAMTON, NY – The Food Bank of the Southern Tier is seeking financial donations as it has doubled the amount of food it is distributing across its 6 county region.
The Food Bank says it isn’t currently tracking the number of new clients it is serving but it assumes that with the large number of businesses being shut down and employees being thrown out of work, the need is only going to intensify.
It’s encouraging people to consider donating the money it might have spent on entertainment, going to the movies or eating out.
CEO Natasha Thompson says donations of non-perishable food is discouraged.
“The coronavirus can live on surfaces for 7 to 14 days so that’s probably not the best option. At this point, financial donations can go a lot further because we can access truckloads of food,” says Thompson.
Thompson says the network of food pantries and free community meals is having to alter its distribution model.
Rather than allow clients into a small confined pantry to choose the items they prefer, volunteers are packaging donations for pickup, sometimes by drive through, and occasionally delivering meals to those who need them.
And soup kitchens are now offering their meals in to go containers.
Thompson says another issue is the volunteers that the pantries rely upon.
“The average food pantry volunteer is a 75 year-old lady. These are high-risk individuals. And we’re getting guidance from our local health departments that we should not be allowing volunteers older than 60 to come out and volunteer. That describes our emergency food network,” says Thompson.
Thompson says some teachers and other out-of-work people have been stepping up to volunteer but training can be a challenge under the circumstances.
For information on how to access food, make an online donation or volunteer, go to FoodbankSTorg.
You can also watch my entire Zoom interview with Thompson here.