ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The Alameda County Community Food Bank has enough capacity to accommodate 50 volunteers for any given shift.
On Friday, just 22 people showed up.
“They’re a dedicated crew that’s coming in during the days to get the work done, but we need more hands,” said food bank spokesperson Michael Altfest.
In fact, Altfest says 22 volunteers is actually a high number compared to what they have seen lately.
On most days in recent weeks, he says that number has mostly been in the teens.
“And, that’s pretty much because of the recent COVID surge,” Altfest said.
In this case, Altfest is speaking for five Bay Area food banks — all reporting a critical volunteer shortage that threatens to impact services at a time when food insecurity remains historically high.
“We’re seeing more people reaching out to us, for instance, for home deliveries,” Altfest said. “We’re seeing some of our agencies have to shut down because of exposures. And, meanwhile, because of just how contagious this current surge is, we’ve seen a lot of particularly groups, cancel their volunteer shifts for the time being.”
The food banks say they have strengthened their health and safety protocols and are confident volunteers can remain healthy lending a hand.
This is as close to one million Bay Area mouths are counting on them to keep the line moving.