The Greater Boston Food Bank delivered over 98 million pounds of food through its distribution partners during the fiscal year that ended in September, a huge spike from the 68 million pounds the organization had budgeted for prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group said Tuesday.
“A big part of that obviously is from the pandemic,” said Gary Roy, a spokesman for the food bank, in a phone interview. “If you haven’t paid close attention to it, it is a little shocking to hear for the first time.”
Roy said the food bank is currently accepting donations for its annual Hunger Free Holidays drive to help families in need during the holiday season. A $25 donation, Roy said, is enough to purchase a holiday meal for a family.
And families are increasingly battling food insecurity nationwide, according to Feeding America, a national network of food banks that includes the Boston organization.
Feeding America said in a recent statement that over 80 percent of the food banks in its network “continue to serve more neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic yet are accustomed to this new level of demand, working tirelessly to keep inventory of food and resources high.”
The USDA, Feeding America continued, estimates that more than 35 million people, including nearly 11 million children, lived in food insecure households before the pandemic.
“However, a recent Feeding America analysis found that number could rise to more than 50 million people, including 17 million children, in 2020,” the statement said. “With the help of monetary contributions to Feeding America and critical partnerships with donors in the supply chain, the Feeding America network has distributed 4.2 billion meals to this growing number of neighbors facing hunger.”
State officials in Massachusetts are responding as well.
On Tuesday, state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery are scheduled at noon to make an announcement regarding food security grants in the state.
The briefing is slated for the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex, a Roxbury facility currently being used as a staging and distribution center for food bank services in a partnership between the YMCA of Greater Boston and DCR, officials said in an advisory announcing the briefing.
And Roy, of the Greater Boston Food Bank, said his organization has information online at gbfb.org/needfood for anyone looking to access one of the hundreds of pantries and distribution centers the group partners with.
“We always want to stress that there are resources available,” Roy said.