America, Chicago, Executive Vice President And Chief Operating Officer discussed on Anna Davlantes
I'm a line out today. Right? When families come together, You know we're also staying apart. Food is a way that we celebrate in many ways on Thanksgiving this year. Even more families are also further from food than ever before. Important work is being done here in Chicago, of course across the country by feeding America excited to have Executive vice president and chief operating officer for Feeding America. Katie Fitzgerald on Katie. Welcome to WGN. Hi, Jane. Thanks for having me on it's great, great to talk to you and make you well, It's great to have you in Happy Thanksgiving first off, and so Big Happy Thanksgiving from Chicago to you, your family, Of course, all of our listeners as well and at a time like this, you think it is a time to have that conversation so many of us are are thinking about food, having food and I think it's important. Also recognize that this is a time when AH lot of people are having whether it's food insecurity or difficulties during the holiday, and so let's talk a little bit about that. So even though we're all thinking about food right now, on Thanksgiving because of the pandemic, this has been a huge challenge for a long time now. Yeah, so you know, first of all, happy Thanksgiving to you. And all of your listeners and thank you for, um, you know, holding up this issue on this day when when we all are thinking about food and in what was a fool for and what we're thankful for is the fact that people like you are raising up this issue. Yet Food insecurity is country is at an all time high, really tired that we've ever seen it in the history of food banking in this country in our 40 year history right now we have over the past eight. Don't seen the level of food and security at our food banks, a consistently at over 60% new people coming to seek charitable food support and our food based network is distributing on average 50% more than we were distributing before the pandemic, so unfortunately It is a surge that has just never related since the beginning of this pandemic. It's the kind of thing that people don't necessarily think of, or no, it isn't something obvious. You mentioned 60% new people that have never Needed or reached out for this kind of support before, but 40 years for feeding America. You guys have been doing that important work for for a long, long time, but we think of at least idea here. Think of feeding America's as Chicago, of course, by the National Impact 200. Food banks around the country 67,000 food pantries that are part of that network supported and in in sort of the family for feeding America. If you could kind of share with the listeners just a little bit about just how big the impact is that you guys have on a yearly basis. Yeah, So is you just mentioned where the largest hunger relief and food waste network in the country and it is. Truly a network. We are ragtag group of nonprofit organizations, faith based community partners, community based organizations. 200 member food banks that are connected to those 60 plus 1000 organizations and every community. Those 200 food banks served every county in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the National Organization, where I work is really the sister and brother to all of those partners were helping to find food. We're helping to build technologies that support Their ability to help people in need. We raise funding, of course. Three Braves considerable funding for the pope in 19 response and have have put all of those dollars out into the community. And so we're really a support. To the good work that people all over this country are doing and in any given, you know, even before the pandemic, two million volunteers a month would participate in supporting local food banks and partner organizations and extended before I'm sure many listeners are volunteers in the feeding America network of food banks, and it's just a vital community based movement all across this country, and we just never needed Everyone for that. We need him now, and they're really showing up talk a little bit about just kind of the unique impact that coronavirus the pandemic. It's impacted everybody. It's the one thing that we've all had some impacts. Whether it's you know, directly into the jobs in the vocations in the industry. We cover a lot of the The restaurants in the foods and, you know, chefs and all of those personalities, and that industry has been hit harder than than ever as well. And so from feeding America perspective, just as kind of just the food thought process. How has the pandemic really hit the food situation? Hard? Yeah, so absolutely. I mean, we kind of talked about it and think about it. Like a triple whammy is how I turn Come to discuss it. It's on the demand side first. Of course, we talked about that. Where we see this consistent increase in elevated to man. And right now we estimate you know, prior to the pandemic. We are. Their assessment was about 35 million Americans were food insecure. We think that members closer to 50 million now 17 million of whom are Children. It's really interesting just on demand that consumer reports that a study recently and I was Really kind of shocked by this, even one in five shoppers that they surveyed at retail groceries across with country had using food, banker food country since the pandemic started, so we know demand is a big issue. So that's the first thing On the supply side. As as you mentioned, especially those in the restaurant industry know that it's been a rollercoaster and early on in the pandemic because of the sharp increases and conspiracy to man. And the impact on the restaurant industry that the whole food supply chain was a bit topsy turvy as we were all trying to figure out how to take that extra surplus from the AG sector, get it into the charitable sector help shore up food service industry and restaurants who've been hit so terribly hard by this, So we have made some good games is a country in the food supply chain, but it is still A bit more constricted than it was before the pandemic, because we, you know, still see high levels of consumer demand. We know retailers have been stocking up for the surge that we're experiencing in the virus now, and so there's been in worker safety, of course, has sort of Created some challenges there, but we are seeing a better flow of food than we did before the pandemic. And then the third thing I would say is been for us the impact on our logistics and distribution models coach You know, we rely as I said the $2 million insurance a month. We rely on people coming together to help each other, and that means coming toe together to help pick up food and sorted and pack it and distribute it. And so our whole network all across the country has had to find these new low touch. Don't touch food distribution models. You people have seen him on television people dragging their cars through to get food without much human interaction, home deliveries and innovation that we've seen much more of where we're able to get food directly to people cones so So it's in those three dimensions of how this pandemic has impacted our ability to make sure everybody has access to healthy, nutritious food. It is for so many people in so many different ways to have to pivot to get the job done and to support people. That way as well. Feeding America's, of course, the glue that ties all of those food banks and all of those pantries together, I feel, too. It's also the vehicle for whether it's companies or individuals that want to support you mentioned the 2000..