Spring is in the air – as anyone with allergies can attest to – but it is also a time of vibrant colors and new beginnings. While we welcome the sunshine, flowers, and warmer temperatures, we also acknowledge that spring is difficult this year, and not because of a pandemic.
People are often inquiring about the Foodbank and ask “how are you doing” to which the answer is simple, yet complex.
We are busy.
The demand for food remains high. We saw a significant increase in the number of people facing food insecurity during the height of the pandemic and that need continues to be substantial. We saw a 27% increase in the amount of food we distributed in March over what was distributed in February – not a trend we were hoping for, coming out of a global pandemic.
However, we are pleased to say that thanks to you, the St. Louis Area Foodbank remains resilient and resolute in supporting our community. We have made a significant effort to illustrate the increased need to our donors (individuals and corporate partners) and many have stepped up to continue to support the work that we do. We have expanded our number of agency partnerships to ensure that those in our community who need food have an accessible option. We are expanding programs such as Food on the Move and plan to open even more school markets to reach children and families in our most food insecure zip codes. However, we must not be complacent and will continue to innovate and generate robust action plans to ensure we remain strong. All these plans are tied to our new Strategic Plan – and our mission: building a stronger bi-state region by nourishing people, empowering communities, and transforming systems, and our vision of a nutritionally secure Missouri and Illinois.
The bottom line is we have had to work harder in recent months to secure the food needed to support our community. Moving out of the pandemic, paired with the current economic climate, has had a significant impact on our supply chain due to increased food costs, rising transportation costs, and a limited physical availability of food. Unfortunately, we do not see these issues resolving themselves anytime soon, so the support of our donors, volunteers, partners, and food suppliers is truly critical.
As we rely significantly on our retail donor partnerships, the same supply issues we face, have had an impact on them, causing a reduction in the amount of product they are able to provide. We are grateful for communities, schools, churches, and businesses that conduct community food drives to benefit our network. Large-scale events such as “Stamp Out Hunger” with the USPS allow us to collect and distribute food and funds to our over 550 partners that receive food from the St. Louis Area Foodbank across our 26-county service territory in both Missouri and Illinois. We are truly grateful for these opportunities, and for your support.
So here is our spring forecast: no matter the weather, the season, or the situation – the St. Louis Area Foodbank will be here for our community. We will continue to be the bright light of hope for all who need it – and together we will weather this storm!