The Food Bank of Delaware this month is notching a disturbing number: 10 million pounds of food distributed to families struggling to afford food since COVID-19 restrictions began.
The food bank is scheduling drive-thru mobile pantries in all three counties, Oct. 19-22, to make its critical support more accessible.
“We saw a dip in number of visits to our on-site food pantries and our drive-thru distributions over the summer, but we are seeing those numbers increase,” said Kim Turner, communications director for the food bank.
Since March 16, the food bank has served 23,218 households at drive-thrus and 20,803 households at its Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford.
Year to year, the numbers look bleak. For Jan. 1 through Oct. 2 of 2019, the food bank distributed 7.8 million pounds of food. For the same dates this year, it distributed 13.2 million pounds.
“Prior to COVID-19 there were 121,850 food-insecure Delawareans,” she said. “We now estimate that due to the pandemic there will be 171,930 food-insecure Delawareans this year.”
Gov. John Carney declared a state of emergency on March 16, and the pantry gave out more than 950,000 pounds of food that week – by far the highest so far this year.
The numbers don’t trend neatly. Distribution the first four weeks of the pandemic was the highest, at 1.9 million pounds, followed by 1.3 million pounds the next four weeks (roughly mid-April to mid-May), then 1.6 million pounds, 1.3 million pounds, 970,000 pounds, 1.2 million pounds and 1.2 millions in successive four-week periods.
Households helped at its Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford don’t trend neatly, either, from a low of 353 a week to a high of 1,055.
The plans for the drive-thrus
Each mobile pantry can handle 1,000 households. Advance registration is available, and so is on-site registration. Service will be first-come, first-served. Assistance is limited to one per household, and recipients must bring proof of ID and Delaware residency.