In December, Berkeley Lab’s community rallied together to raise over $135,000 for local food banks. That translates into 270,000 meals, or enough meals to feed a family of four for 61 years.
One of the receiving agencies, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties, shared a video thank you for the entire Lab.
Those funds arrived to agencies across the Bay Area that definitely needed them. Food banks are seeing new demographics and serving clients who report this is the first time they have needed food assistance. Jules, who works for a surgeon in Oakland and is also sole caregiver for her cancer-stricken 84-year-old mother, is one of those clients. Jules saw her hours reduced when COVID-19 slowed down business. She told the Alameda County Community Food Bank that neither she or her mom had ever needed the food bank before.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties has seen a 65% increase in clients, from 178,000 per month in 2019 to over 278,000 per month now. Alameda County Community Food Bank’s food distribution rate has expanded from 2.4 million pounds (pre-COVID) to more than 4 million pounds monthly.
This increased need isn’t going away any time soon. Past data from the 2008 recession indicates that it is difficult for households to recover from food insecurity. Food banks expect the impact to increase and need could last for the next three years.
Local food banks need continued community support. Volunteer and donation support tends to drop after the winter holiday season, but the agencies aren’t seeing any reduction in clients. Below are some ways to continue to help.
Virtual Donation Drive
One of the best ways to continue to support food banks is by hosting a virtual donation drive. Cash donations go farther because food banks have bulk/wholesale agreements and greater buying power than the average consumer. Consider hosting a virtual donation drive with your work team, neighbors, Employee Resource Group or professional association.
Food banks are struggling to fill volunteer shifts due to COVID-19 concerns. Both of the Lab’s regular partner agencies have set up safe and distanced in-person volunteer opportunities at their warehouses and/or their contactless pickup locations. Volunteering is a great team-building opportunity, and a way to connect while doing good and staying safe.
More Community Opportunities in 2021
As part of the 90th anniversary celebration, Berkeley Lab will support five non-profit STEM organizations to help prepare young scholars to become tomorrow’s leaders and problem solvers. Details on volunteer and donation opportunities are available on the Berkeley Lab Next 90 website.