HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Food Bank of North Alabama has taken part in multiple federal and state programs since the pandemic began and has fed more people than it ever imagined.
In August, the nonprofit distributed about 1.2 million pounds of food, which equates to 1 million meals.
Joshua Matthews, the Operations Director at the Food Bank, says it’s the most food ever distributed in a single month in the food bank’s history.
“Right now as we respond to the pandemic, we are doing more than we have ever done before,” Matthews said. “Everybody here is doing a great job to get as much food out to as many people as we can across our 11 county service area here in North AL.”
Matthews says the food bank is seeing an increased need across its agency network, which includes 250 hunger relief partners.
He says many of the food pantries are seeing double their normal amount of people. Matthews also has received some reports that more than 70 percent are people who have never visited a food pantry before.
“While unemployment is getting better, I do think that there are still quite a few people in need and again I think the pandemic has deepened the need for people that were already either borderline or at risk of food insecurity,” Matthews said.
The Food Bank of North AL also participated in the first two rounds of the Farmer’s to Families Food Box Program and is gearing up for round three. Within that program, about 45,000 pounds of fresh produce and milk was distributed to families in need across North Alabama.
The nonprofit also works with several backpack agencies that distribute two-day meal kits to children at schools.
Matthews says food insecurity is still a major problem in the community and thanks local donors for helping people get back on their feet after six months of hardship.
“Since the start of the pandemic back in March, we have distributed around 7 million pounds of food across our service area," Matthews said. "So that is a pretty big milestone for us to hit within just six months and we could absolutely not do that without the support of our community, without the Farmer to Families Food Box Program, without the support of our state food bank association, our sister food banks and everybody that has donated.”
The Food Bank also has been sending out additional mobile pantries in rural areas. There have been some recent ones in Marshall County, and today there is one Dekalb County.