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Helping Food Banks During the Pandemic

By Katy Yang

Contributing Author

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, food banks have worked on the frontline to respond to the crisis and provide meals for those in need. However, food banks themselves also took a hit from the virus. Many saw a drastic decline in volunteers, as volunteers were socially distancing, high-risk individuals, or had new responsibilities at home such as taking care of children while schools were closed. On top of that, the pandemic’s recession has left an impact on many food banks’ stock. As more people turn to food banks for support, fewer people are able to donate to meet the growing demand. While the situation is dire, there are many ways you can help. Here’s a short guide on supporting food banks through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Volunteer

One of the best ways to directly help out a food bank is to become a volunteer. Thanksgiving and Christmas are busy times for food banks, as they are times when many families get together to celebrate the holidays. By signing up as a volunteer, you can create an impact as an individual or alongside your close ones, as well as experience something new.

Food banks and food drives offer a variety of options for contributing as a volunteer, including:

  • Sorting and assembling donations into packages for pickup

  • Assisting and distributing food parcels to visitors

  • Delivering food around the community, especially to seniors and people with health conditions

  • Volunteering virtually—if you are concerned about social distancing during COVID-19, you can still help out from home by working on blogs, websites, and more

2. Donate foods

Another way to support food banks during this pandemic is to donate food, as many food banks’ stocks have been running low. Many grocery stores and supermarkets have an in-store collection point where you can donate items right away after you add some extra food items to your cart. Alternatively, you can also drop off your donation directly at a food bank, or contact a nearby organization like us to pick up your donation at the curb.

A tip for choosing foods to donate is to pick non-perishables with high nutritional value such as: canned meats and tuna, canned vegetables and fruits, peanut butter, cereal, pasta, beans and lentils. Food banks accept other everyday items as well, including toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.

If you are still unsure of what to donate, you can always contact a local food bank and ask what food items they need the most at the moment, or make a monetary donation.

3. Donate money

Food banks also accept monetary donations. Not only is donating money safer and more convenient during a pandemic, it can in fact go further than if you paid for the food yourself at retail prices, as many food banks have direct relationships with suppliers. In addition, your dollar can help supply food banks with foods you can’t donate: including perishables such as milk, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Donating money to a food bank can be as simple as contacting a charitable organization like us online, or contributing to the COVID-19 Response Fund.

4. Fundraise

Like donating your own money, fundraising can be done online as you distance yourself at home.

Many websites today such as GoFundMe allow you to start your own fundraiser that can be spread online in a few simple steps: setting your goal, telling your story, and sharing it with friends or through social media. If you have a platform for a talent on social media, you can also consider hosting an online event such as a livestream that accepts donations.

There are endless creative possibilities to raise money for a cause with those around you, and if you are looking for more, here is a long list of ideas. By starting or supporting a fundraiser, you can make a difference to reduce hunger, together with your community.

All across Canada, food banks have been helping their staff, volunteers, and visitors stay safe amidst a pandemic by following guidelines from health authorities and making changes to help visitors socially distance themselves while picking up their food. In the end, one of the most basic and important ways to help food banks through the pandemic is to play your part in working to return things back to normal. Always remember to take precautions to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19, and stay up-to-date on trusted sources.


Byrne, C. (2020, November 25). What do food pantries really need right now? Food Network.

Food banks Canada. FOODBANKS. (n.d.).

Morello, P. (2020, December 7). Start these 5 COVID-FRIENDLY holiday traditions that give back. Feeding America.

Morello, P. (2020, November 23). As COVID cases surge during the holidays, food banks respond to tremendous need. Feeding America.

Thoelke, O. (2019, August 21). Donating food to a food bank? Consider cash instead of canned goods. Feeding America.

Valm, A. (2020, January 8). What food banks really need-and what they don't. locallove.

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