This year, in the face of drastically higher food assistance needs resulting from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Food Bank has had to gather and distribute more food resources than ever.
“When this pandemic began, we all hoped life would return to normal sooner than later,” said Dave Richins, United Food Bank’s president and CEO. “But, as this went on, the long-term impact to our economy became clear. We quickly had to shift focus to include not only meeting rising current food needs but also preparing for those elevated needs to continue well into next year.”
United Food Bank has invested $12.5 million on food purchases, warehousing and transportation since the start of the pandemic and is committed to an additional $7.7 million from this November through June 2021. “Our buying power is significant because we order food literally by the truckload,” added Richins. “So, we’re able to secure it at a much lower cost than someone could get going to their local grocery store.”
But that takes a lot of planning, since truckloads of food aren’t just waiting on a store shelf. United Food Bank is placing food orders now to ensure its inventories will match food assistance needs through the spring of 2021. To illustrate the scale of the undertaking, United Food Bank currently has 50 to 60 truckloads of food coming to its Mesa warehouse each month. Food distribution this year is expected to reach nearly 29 million pounds, up from 24 million last year.