Millions of Americans have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Food-insecure individuals, who Feeding American estimates make up over 37 million Americans, including 11 million children, face an entirely different challenge of their own.
COVID-19’s Impact on Food Banks
COVID-19 has severely impacted the food banks and community programs in place to support those in need. Since the start of the pandemic, the Auburn Food Bank has had to cancel important fundraisers. The Auburn School District food drive brings in $93,000 in food and money. The Empty Bowls luncheon typically raises $15,000, and the Postal Carrier food drive collects $35,000 worth of food. “These pounds carry us through to September, typically,” said Auburn Food Bank Executive Director Debbie Christian.
Knowing the vital resource the Auburn Food Bank is, there have been several drives to help supplement these losses. The Outlet Collection Drive-By Food Drive collected $6,496 and 4,191 pounds of food. Hunt for Hunger collected $2,835 and 1,296 pounds of food. May’s GiveBig event raised $16,193, with a $15,000 match. In addition to volunteering, providing food, sanitizing gels and wipes, Auburn School District employees came together and collected $68,783.91 in the ASD Employee Cares drive.
Knowing the difference these drives made, Christian shared her gratitude for all involved. “Thank you are two little words that cannot say it all – but I’m sending each one the hugest hugs possible! Auburn is the best home town ever. Auburn has always taken care of their own!”
With COVOD-19 still darkening the doorstep of our communities, and furloughs turning to layoffs, the need for services from the Auburn Food Bank continues to increase. Christian shared that the food bank has seen at least a 20% increase in clients. “[Some] have never had to ask for help ever before. Others have been to us before, anywhere from 3-10 years ago.”
Prime Your Donation to the Auburn Food Bank
Now, donating is easier than ever. Thanks to a team from the Leadership Institute South Puget Sound, you can donate to the Auburn Food Bank from the comfort of your own home through AmazonSmile.
AmazonSmile is a website powered by Amazon that gives the option for shoppers to support various charitable organizations. The team from the Leadership institute South Puget Sound has created a wish list of the food bank’s most needed items. Check it out here (click).
Amanda Valdez, a team member who helped organize this virtual food drive, admits that although COVID-19 forced the team to take an unexpected turn when planning for their “normal/ pre-COVID” food drive. “It feels good to know our community is supporting the food bank, decreasing food insecurity in Auburn, and that this project is sustainable and can live on well past our Leadership class,” said Valdez.
The Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce describes the Leadership Institute South Puget Sound is a program that explores leadership development within the community for current and emerging leaders. According to food drive team member Shawn Warner, part of their learning included a small group project targeting different areas of the community, such as health and service. The group focused on food insecurity, which ultimately led to the wish list. “It was a fantastic program and valuable learning and growth opportunity,” said Warner.
“Day one of this virtual drive, we started to see boxes arrive! One box with one package (6 cans) of tuna. Another box arrived with six boxes of cereal. While You might think this seems small, each of those items made a difference for a family,” said Christian. “Cereal is one of those things we rarely get in, and with six boxes of cereal, we helped six families. With kids home more, parents are having to worry about needing more food. The donations are never too small. Having these boxes arrive, has also saved a lot of staff time!”
The virtual food drive has no end date.
Other Ways to Support
The Auburn Food Bank is still accepting in-person donations. Donations can be drop off directly to the food bank (930 18th Pl NE, Auburn, WA 98002) or to the dropbox located outside the Safeway on Auburn Way So (101 Auburn Way S, Auburn, WA 98002).
A portion of the sales is also directly donated to the Auburn Food Bank if selected as the charity of choice on your AmazonSmile account. Although monetary donations are not accepted through AmazonSmile, you can make a monetary donation directly to the Auburn Food Bank through Network for Good or Venmo (@Auburn-Foodbank). Checks made out to The Auburn Food Bank can be mailed to or dropped off at the food bank. Every $1 donated has $5 spending power when Christian works her magic.
If you want to lend support but are unable to contribute financially, Christian is always looking for volunteers. Contact the food bank (253-833-8925) or stop by to find out how you can assist.
The virtual food drive provides a safe way to support the community, while also ensuring the food bank client needs are met. It’s also a great excuse the next time you drink and prime, because after all, it’s for a good cause!