VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Food banks in Washington state are being stressed with increasing demand and a dramatic drop in volunteers, and that has state emergency officials and local food banks planning for the worst.
The Clark County Food Bank is the main hub of food distribution for most of the food banks in Southwest Washington. It’s facing a growing list of challenges.
The demand for food has gone up about 15% over the past few weeks compared to the saame time period last year, according to the president of the Clark County Food Bank. The food supply is getting smaller because suppliers are facing their own new set of challenges.
Food banks, like Fish of Vancouver, also have the immediate challenge of operatin with new social distancing guidelines with just a skeleton staff of volunteers. So many of the regular volunteers are in the high-risk age group.
“Really, we need volunteers,” said Fish Executive Director James Fitzgerald. “We are down about 90% of our volunteers. Our elderly are not coming right now.”
Clark County Food Bank officials are also concerned that the price of wholesale food is going up while overall donations are going down. Adding to the problem is the cancellation of the National Letter Carriers food drive, which was always held in May. Food banks depend on the food drive and are concerned about the effects from losing it.
Officials told KOIN 6 News a few statewide projections forecast possible shortages for some food banks in the state within a couple weeks when more paychecks start drying up.
In Clark County the inventories look good for at least a month, but after that it depends on where the fight against the coronavirus is — and how many people are able to return to work.