Georgia’s food banks are taking action to address the growing demand for their services ahead of summer break.
Frank Sheppard, Feeding the Valley Food Bank’s President and CEO, said many families throughout their 18-county service area have yet to recover from financial hardships caused by the pandemic and inflation. He added families are still in need of assistance one year after the pandemic food benefits have ended. As schools close for the summer, the food bank is proactively preparing to support families.
“We projected on average that 2,000 meals a day in the school year will become about 12,000 meals a day during summer,” he explained. “So there are a lot of kids that we are going to see two and three times a day. So, it’s a lot more kids from about 2,000 to 5,000.”
Sheppard added Feeding the Valley Food Bank will increase the number of locations it serves to approximately 43 sites and expand its current Kids Café program to provide multiple meals to children for ten weeks.
Increased need means that many food banks need additional labor, and it is an area that has also failed to rebound since the pandemic, he said.
“Some groups are still reluctant to volunteer at the level they were pre-pandemic. We definitely continue to need volunteers,” Sheppard said. “We’re not back to the level we were pre-pandemic and continue to need more volunteer assistance.”
The Feeding America network reports that approximately 1 in 8 Georgian children faces food insecurity. Nearly 50% of households receiving SNAP benefits have children.
This story was written by Shanteya Hudson, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.