FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for nearly a year and one of the many impacts was food insecurity and an influx of people needing assistance from food banks.
In April of last year, about a month into the pandemic, Community Harvest Food Bank saw an increase of 40 to 45 percent in people needing assistance. Throughout the last year, they have held various farm wagons to distribute their food with a drive-up model. Community Harvest has become so familiar with this system that they anticipate continuing it even after the pandemic need is over, in addition to growing their reach over the coming months.
“We have roughly 400 partnering agencies, so these are non-profits and what we are looking to do is build agency capacity,” said Carmen Cumberland, Executive President of Community Harvest Food Bank, “Getting them more food, getting them more freezers, refrigerators. So they can be our boots on the ground. To help in all areas where there is a need.”
These farm wagons are focused on food deserts and areas where the need is not being met. Frequently, long lines of vehicles form at these distributions, and with the increased demand Community Harvest needs to make sure they have enough stock. While Community Harvest does purchase a certain amount of product every year. They have had to purchase substantially more over the last year due to such high demand and less product actually being donated.
“We weren’t getting as much donated food, so we had to purchase product. So roughly the previous year we had purchased about 93,000 dollars worth of purchased food,” explained Cumberland, “We are probably close to half a million at this point, that we have had to purchase in the last year.”
Carmen adds that there are many ways to help Community Harvest you can make a donation or sign up to volunteer on their website. If you are looking to help in a different way she encourages you to write a note of encouragement they can put in the boxes to life spirits.
WANE 15 will have a COVID-19 One Year Later special, with a look back at how the pandemic has impacted industries and lives over the past year. WANE 15 will air the special Saturday morning during First News and the full special will also be posted on wane.com.