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Food banks deal with impact of Coronavirus

Demand is up while volunteer shifts are down
Posted: 7:49 AM, Mar 16, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-16 10:49:46-04
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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Food banks across San Diego say demand is up, and volunteering is down as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads.

"There are a lot of unknowns right now," says James Floros, the CEO of the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

Floros says they've already had dozens of volunteer groups cancel their upcoming shifts, as the CDC and state and local governments advise against any large gatherings.

Meanwhile, he says demand is skyrocketing, since many people are losing money from reduced shifts, or losing access to meals they get from work, communal gatherings or other places.

"We know a lot of the service industry are getting laid off, school closures, what have you," says Floros. "So, we're creating our plans to ramp up our service to the community."

The Food Bank serves 350,000 people a year, providing food to numerous outreach groups who then distribute it to people who are food insecure.

But as distributions become harder to coordinate with new social distancing guidelines, groups are having to rethink the way they get food to those who need it.

"we have to reinvent the paradigm and figure out ways to get food to people who are self-isolating," says Vince Hall, the CEO of Feeding San Diego. "Because they're complying with the edicts of health officials, but they're cut off from the food that keeps them healthy."

Hall says his group has canceled all group volunteer events. But they're still allowing people to volunteer on an individual basis to help deliver food.

The food banks also encourage donations.

"It makes me sad," says Hall. "Tragically, there are going to be more people in this community struggling with hunger because people can't go to work while they stay home to take care of kids while they can't go to school and there are going to be ripple effects throughout the economy."

However, both Hall and Floros are hopeful that the community will make sure hunger doesn't compound the impact of the Coronavirus.

"We're not panicking, we're just rising to the occasion," says Floros.

"This is a moment when this community is going to come together, pull together, and bring resources to bear on a problem that's going to affect people across the entirety of the county," says Hall.

To donate, go to feedingsandiego.org or sandiegofoodbank.org.