skip to main content
caption: A recent food distribution at Sodo Community Market. Food banks are expecting a big increase in people who need their services, and they are already having a hard time stocking their shelves.
Enlarge Icon
A recent food distribution at Sodo Community Market. Food banks are expecting a big increase in people who need their services, and they are already having a hard time stocking their shelves.
Credit: Courtesy Northwest Harvest

Food banks expecting a surge in new customers during Covid-19

With hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians now out of work, food banks across the state are expecting a big increase in the number of people using their services.

“So many people are going to be coming in that may never have come into a food bank before,” said Jordan Rubin, a spokesperson for Northwest Harvest, a nonprofit that supplies food banks throughout Washington. “It puts a big squeeze on local food banks,” he said.

By the end of the spring, Rubin said, the number of people deemed “food insecure”-- that is, who are lacking consistent access to enough food-- is expected to double from what it was before the Covid-19 crisis began.

As the need increases, food banks are already having a hard time stocking up.

They normally rely on donations from grocery stores and from individuals, and they also buy food in bulk from suppliers.

These days, grocery stores don’t have much to donate because the demand for groceries has been so high.

Some food banks have worked out systems to accept food donations safely, while others are waiting to accept donations till they work out new systems.

As for buying in bulk, Rubin said that food banks are now competing on the open market with a lot of other grocery stores.

“Where we used to be able to purchase something at 25 cents on the dollar, we’re getting close to seeing a dollar on the dollar,” he said. Rubin expects some food banks to run low on supplies in the next couple of weeks.

Rubin said the best way to support food banks these days is by donating money.