Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is committed now more than ever to serving those in need of food assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. As our region unites and rallies around each other, the Food Bank is incredibly grateful to everyone who has answered the call to support our mission. The outpouring has been incredible, but knowing the personality of southwestern Pennsylvania, it’s not surprising. We are the City of Champions!
The Food Bank has continued to make adjustments to our operations in accordance with health and safety recommendations, as well as the overall demand for food. In March, we made the incredibly tough decision to cancel our Produce to People distributions until further notice. These 18 monthly events serve a large population in our 11-county service area. However, we made this decision to ensure the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the people we serve. That particular model does not fall in line with social distancing standards. Also, in order to best allocate our staffing resources, we have also discontinued our Green Grocer program until further notice.
To help fill that gap and need for food, we’ve implemented our new drive-up emergency food distribution model. Through our first four distributions, utilizing a no-touch approach, we have served 5,109 vehicles providing a total of 265,450 pounds of food. We will continue to strategize how to best execute this model moving forward. Thanks to the Duquesne and surrounding police departments, our most recent emergency food distribution outside our warehouse (March 30) served 809 vehicles in just three hours. Overhead video footage from this distribution has been seen across various news organizations and more than 1.2 million times on social media. That video led to invaluable and much needed national awareness about the demand for food assistance. Food Bank representatives appeared on multiple local and national media outlets to discuss the current status of our operation.
Our President & CEO, Lisa Scales was featured on CNN with Anderson Cooper and MSNBC with Katy Tur. Newsweek highlighted the impact that coronavirus has had on food banks, while KDKA-AM Radio shared a generous donation that was made to our organization.
Our next emergency drive-up food distribution will take place on Monday, April 6 outside our Duquesne warehouse. Each vehicle will receive one food share (2 boxes) per vehicle. Due to the high demand for assistance, to ensure as many people receive food as possible, we must adhere to this policy. For additional food, please contact your local food pantry or contact the Food Bank for information about how to find a pantry near you. You can find a pantry by using the “locator” tab on our website.
This distribution will run from noon until 3 p.m. For the safety of the staff and volunteers working to set-up the event, those attending the event are asked to arrive no earlier than 11 a.m. via the intersection of 837 (South Duquesne Blvd.) and South Linden St. Those who arrive prior to 11 a.m. may be asked to return at that time. The distribution will end promptly at 3 p.m. Drive-up service will be discontinued at that time.
For the safety of all staff, volunteers and attendees, the Food Bank is asking individuals to follow these guidelines:intersection of 837 (South Duquesne Blvd.) and South Linden St. Those who arrive prior to 11 a.m. may be asked to return at that time. The distribution will end promptly at 3 p.m. Drive-up service will be discontinued at that time.
- For everyone’s safety, individuals attending the distribution must stay in their vehicles at all times, except when using the outdoor restroom facilities placed along Linden St. This will help us maintain six-foot social distancing guidelines. Leaving cars to socialize is strictly prohibited.
- After pulling into “distribution row”, please put your vehicle in park and unlock your trunk or backseat for food to be loaded. Volunteers will not load food into vehicles until in park. Please stay in your vehicle.
Our distributions team is working to identify other locations in the counties surrounding Allegheny to host more of these large-scale drive up distributions. When those are confirmed, we will provide updates on our website and social media channels.
NATIONAL GUARD ACTIVATION
As of Thursday, April 2, the Pennsylvania National Guard has been activated to support our operations. The Guard will be assisting with the mass packing of emergency food boxes, large scale drive-up distributions and general operations.
FOOD SUPPLY, DISTRIBUTION AND INVENTORY
In total, through our warehouse, we distributed one million more pounds of food in March 2020 than we did in March 2019. Additionally, we have had a 543 percent increase of people coming to the Food Bank directly for food. At the current time, our inventory is still strong, but that may change over the coming weeks. The demand is truly unprecedented. We spent $1.7 million in the past two months on food purchases, compared to an average of $550,000 in that same time frame from 2013-2019. This is why financial contributions are most critical at this time.
Every dollar you are able to donate provides enough food for up to five meals to our neighbors in need. The generosity of our region ensures that those who are struggling financially don’t have to go without sufficient food during this time of crisis.
President & CEO
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank