The small headline caught my eye: “Local food bank need rises 200% – Donations decline under state’s stay-at-home order.”
The story was hidden under the ‘bigger’ one about a couple hundred protesters honking car horns on the capital’s streets, venting anger and frustration, demanding that the state reopen for business.
They’re part same issue, of course – how to handle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. No one has clear answers.
But the alarming facts about hunger and unemployment have spiraled out of the air like a U.S.-sized tornado. Over the last 5 weeks 26 million Americans have filed jobless claims. The sum of filings may suggest the unemployment rate hovers around 20%.
Translation: too many people have suddenly lost the ability to pay for the necessities.
Of 200 U.S. foodbanks belonging to the nationwide network Feeding America, 98% said this week they have experienced a surge in demand concurrent with the pandemic outbreak, and 59% say their inventory has decreased. As demand increases, what’s been collected and stored to be given out doesn’t meet current needs. What’s more – about 50% of the clients now visiting food banks are new clients – people who didn’t need assistance just a few weeks ago.
Don’t let your eyes glaze over. These people are your neighbors. And mine.
We pray for them, and we have faith that God will provide. But we can’t stop there. The Lord sent manna to feed the hungry Israelites, but today He’s sent you and me.
Scripture tells us,“[F]aith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)
God expects us to live out our love for Him in our deeds, and He needs us to do His work in the world. His undying Love is expressed through us – people who allow our faith to shine through our hands and hearts.
So, how can we help?
- The primary need is funding for food banks, and we can all donate online without ever leaving our couches. Click here on Feeding America to find your local food bank with your state or zipcode. Go to it and contribute $10, $20, $100, or any amount you can. Then, if your budget allows, set a reminder on your phone to make the same donation again in 2 weeks, or monthly, until this crisis ends. Wholesale purchasing amplifies your gift, so your dollar will go farther with an online donation than if you buy groceries and drop them at a food bank in person. At the Anne Arundel County Food Bank near me, every $1 donated equals $7.85 of help.
- Create a Facebook Campaign by going to JustGiving.com, searching the list of charities and authorizing it to post a button to your page. See my blog’s Facebook page for an example – a campaign for The Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis, MD.
- Donate time. Be a driver, package food, or even volunteer virtually by making donor thank-you calls or writing thank-you notes. For example, in Maryland, the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore is looking for volunteers ages 13-60 to sort and box food. Inquire locally to see what’s needed in your area.
- Check in with your favorite pantry or shelter and offer the team support. One of my favorites is The Father McKenna Center in Washington, DC. Ask if you can drop off blankets, clothes, or other supplies when you are out. They know who needs what; if they can’t use what you’re offering, they’ll know who will.
- Forward this post to your friends and family. Remind them that we can all do something. Especially right now.
Each person is a reflection of the divine, and Love Himself demands a response. To stand by and do nothing when people are suffering is to look upon God and turn away. So let’s turn our efforts toward the beautiful faces of people in need and do whatever we can to offer our assistance.