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For ways you can help the Food Bank during the COVID-19 crisis, click here.
More information on Ready to Eat Meals (MREs).
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank has anticipated seeing an increased demand at food pantries and meal sites throughout the state.
We’re Distributing More Food
Last week, we distributed 350,000 pounds of food – that’s 100,000 pounds more than our normal weekly total. For the month of March, we dispersed 39% more food than we had at this same time last year. Our drivers have been delivering more frequently and added Saturdays to their routes. (Click on the graphic above to expand it.)
We’re also transporting food to sites outside of our existing network of 168 member agencies. Working with FEMA and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, the Food Bank has been dropping off truckloads of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) to cities and towns in need of additional food assistance. Together, we’re able to reach people who maybe not have a nearby food pantry or, like many seniors affected by this crisis, are unable to leave their homes.
We’re Hearing from More People in Need
On our website and via phone and email, we are receiving increased requestsfrom people asking where they can find food so we expect the number of new visitors to pantries will continue to grow. Many of these contacts are from people who recently became unemployed and have never before sought food assistance. They often express fear and concern as we and our member agencies work with them to access food in their community.
We Miss Our Volunteers
We’re managing this additional work without our normal corps of volunteers who sort and pack food. We sincerely miss their support. Staff members have been stepping up to fill in the gap and we couldn’t be more thankful for their dedication and commitment. We look forward to having our volunteers back when this crisis is over.
We Are EssentialThe Food Bank and its pantries have been declared essential services by the Governor so we will remain operational even while nonessential businesses close. And we rely on you now more than ever to continue this critical work.
Food Bank Member Agencies in the News
Our network of food pantries and meal sites have been adapting to respond to the need in their communities while keeping staff, volunteers and guests safe. Here are several examples that have been highlighted recently in the local media. Click on the agency name to read their story.
Northern RI Food Pantry in Cumberland
Dr. Martin Luther King Center in Newport
Progreso Latino in Central Falls
Jonnycake Center of Westerly
East Greenwich Interfaith Food Cupboard
WARM Center in Westerly
The Food Bank has been working hard to distribute food to our neighbors in need through our statewide network of food pantries and meal sites. We’ve also been adapting our operations to meet the increased demand, particularly among vulnerable populations like children and seniors.
All Are Welcome
Many Rhode Islanders are experiencing food insecurity for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. They may never have sought food assistance through our network of food pantries and meal sites.
At the member agencies of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, all are welcome – Todos Son Bienvenidos – regardless of background, including immigration status. Our priority is to provide assistance to those most in need, so please help us spread the word that our network is here to help.
Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs)
The Food Bank is working with RIEMA to deliver 45,000 Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) to towns and cities across Rhode Island. Each community will receive their requested supply and issue them to individuals at the local level. The MRE kits will not be available directly to the public through the Food Bank but a supply will be delivered to member agencies in our network.
Thousands have already gone out, and we anticipate that by the end of the week nearly 75% will be distributed. We expect that we will receive more of these meals from FEMA as the crisis continues. To learn more about MREs, click here.
To meet the increased need at our member agencies, the Food Bank added deliveries on Saturday. Our drivers will be making sure that shelves stay stocked with healthy, nutritious food.
In the past three weeks, we’ve distributed 2,624 Meals4Kids boxes, more than twice the number we usually give out in a whole month. Each pack contains a week’s worth of meals and snacks for kids. We continue to deliver more boxes to our member agencies so that we can meet the demand.
And we’re preparing our Senior Box distribution for April as part of our ongoing monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Each month, we provide 1,660 older adults with a box of healthy, supplemental food. Normally, these boxes are packed by volunteers, but due to COVID-19 restrictions on groups, our staff are putting them together.
Along with the outpouring of contributions from businesses and individuals like you, we’ve received many kind words. Here’s a quote from one of our recent donors, Janice from Riverside:
“I am proud of the effort to address so many issues relating to this emergency. I am a long-retired nurse who is among the vulnerable population and wish I could do more.”
As COVID-19 continues to impact our community through the closing of businesses and schools, households at risk of hunger become increasingly more vulnerable. We are working hard to meet the increased demand for food assistance in our community.
Before this public health emergency began, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank was distributing food to 53,000 adults, seniors, and children through our partner agency network and direct distribution programs. As more people come to us for assistance – many of them for the first time – we expect to see that number grow and we are committed to serving all of our neighbors in need.
We Are Feeding Our Kids
This week, we have focused on packing more than 7,000 Meals4Kids boxes and distributing them through our network. These boxes contain a week’s worth of healthy meals and snacks for a child, along with information on other resources in the community. We are thankful to Stop & Shop’s Family Foundation for funding this program.
With school closures, children are missing out on the daily breakfasts, lunches and meals they receive through school and afterschool programs. We have been sharing information provided by school districts on their free “Grab & Go” packs that ensure children and their families have access to three meals a day.
We Are Feeding Our Seniors
The Food Bank provides boxes of nutritious food to 1,660 seniors every month at food pantries and senior housing sites throughout Rhode Island. The majority of these distributions are continuing as scheduled.
We Are Maintaining Our Operations
Our fleet of trucks is on the road daily as Food Bank drivers have increased the amount of food and frequency of deliveries to our member agencies. Our staff are also responding to emergency needs and shortages as they arise.
At the Food Bank, we are operating with some modifications to our daily routines. We have currently canceled all volunteer shifts through April 13. Also, many staff who can’t do their regular jobs in the community are now filling in for volunteers sorting food and packing boxes to ensure that food distribution continues uninterrupted.
Our network of 168 partner agencies throughout the state remains strong. Although several have suspended food distributions, we are able to refer guests to alternative locations nearby. We are encouraging all agencies to remain open and follow all Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines, including those for social distancing. The flow of food to agencies is continuing with little disruption, and agencies are serving families and individuals seeking food assistance.
The Food Bank is focused on meeting the needs of the community while also ensuring the health of our employees, volunteers and other stakeholders. Thank you for your continued commitment to our work.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to ask how they can support the Rhode Island Community Food Bank during the COVID-19 public health emergency. We appreciate your caring and concern for our neighbors in need.
In response to the crisis, the Food Bank has made some adjustments to our operations, but we continue to deliver food through our statewide network of member agencies.
For the safety of our staff and volunteers, we have canceled volunteer shifts for the next 2 weeks. Staff members have been reassigned to sort and pack food in small groups to ensure that we can maintain food distribution.
Our top priority is to ensure that our network of pantries remains strong and able to distribute healthy, nutritious food to those who need it most. The ability of our member agencies to continue to serve guests will change as this crisis develops, so we are regularly updating the Agency List on the Find Food page of our website.
The best way you can help support this critical work right now is to make a financial donation to the Food Bank. We anticipate an increase in need as many people find themselves out of work and the economy worsens. Every donation will ensure that we can maintain our operations well into the future while continuing to acquire and distribute healthy food to some of the most vulnerable populations, including children and seniors.
Again, thank you for your continued dedication and commitment to our work to ensure that no one goes hungry during this crisis. It’s especially heartening to be reminded that we are all in this together.
Thank you for being part of our caring network of individuals who are committed to making sure that no one in Rhode Island goes hungry.
We want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to provide children and families with the healthy, nutritious food they need during the COVID-19 public health crisis. We are working closely with our network of partner agencies to continue distributing food throughout the state.
At the Food Bank, we care deeply about our community, especially the most vulnerable members of our population. Sixty-six percent of households visiting food pantries include a child or senior adult.
In the latest development, Governor Raimondo today announced that schools will move up the scheduled April break to next week, beginning Monday, March 16.
We understand the need for this preventative action. We are also keenly aware that the closure will severely impact the more than 50,000 children in our state who receive free and reduced-price lunches at school every day.
Many of these families are already accessing food assistance through the Food Bank’s member agencies but will now need more help. As the situation unfolds, we anticipate new families visiting pantries for the first time.
We’ve also been in touch with our Congressional delegation and they are working hard to ensure that emergency SNAP assistance is included among the resources in the relief package provided to states.
All of the people served through the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, whether children, adults or seniors already struggle with food insecurity. A public health emergency like COVID-19 only adds to the stress and strain on their health and wellness. That’s why it is so critical that we continue to provide food assistance to Rhode Islanders in need.
We appreciate your continued commitment and support and we will keep you updated and informed.