The vision of the River Bend Foodbank is to have a "hunger-free Iowa and Illinois" by leading "the community-wide effort to end hunger in eastern Iowa and western Illinois." In 2020, that's becoming even harder to do.
No one saw the COVID-19 Pandemic coming. In 2019, the River Bend Foodbank distributed the equivalent of 19 million meals to food pantries across 23 counties, working hard to close the meal gap. However, that gap is being widened every week as millions more Americans file for unemployment and struggle to make ends meet and fill a grocery cart... some for the very first time.
"One of the most heartbreaking things about this whole crisis that we’ve experienced are people who have never needed help from the food bank or food pantry before in their lives," said Mike Miller, President/CEO of the River Bend Foodbank during his live appearance on Good Morning Quad Cities on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
"Maybe their kids are out of school or they’re suddenly unemployed and they have needs... but that's why we’re here.”
Miller said April 2020 was "uncharted territory" for them as they took precautions to keep their staff safe and started practicing social distancing. Instead of people coming inside the River Bend Foodbank in Davenport to get food for their pantries, they're offering curbside distribution.
"We're trying to figure out how to meet a bigger demand, because of people who are in need now, but trying to do that in a way that’s safe for everyone," he explained.
On the other side of the equation, Miller said another challenge is interruptions to the food supply chain:
"We only have about a month’s supply and we’re out there looking a month ahead trying to keep the supply full and because of outages in the supply chain - or even we’ve heard of food having to be discarded because they can’t get it processed - we’re having to turn to more purchased food to make sure we don’t run out to meet this bigger need."
Miller said that means their costs have skyrocketed. They are accepting monetary donations right now and WQAD News 8 is helping. If you want to donate or if you are in need of food, click here.