The Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB) announced April 9 that Michael and Pam Wilson have provided a dollar-for-dollar match up to $150,000 for every donation made toward COVID-19 food relief. The donation will be used to purchase and distribute “Fueled by Fresh” relief boxes of fresh produce and shelf-stable food designed to provide each family with one week’s worth of food.
COVID-19 is creating a tremendous increase in the demands on the Food Bank and its partner agencies and food pantries. The LCFB is meeting increased food needs while preparing for continued challenges in the weeks and months to come. In the last few weeks alone, the LCFB has expensed more than $400,000 on food and transportation.
“Pam and I understand this pandemic has brought a much greater demand for food, but also significant challenges in getting it distributed,” said Michael Wilson. “Families and individuals are experiencing lost wages and difficulty in accessing food – even more severely in rural areas, and with school closures — in our own backyard. These factors bring an increased reliance on the Food Bank. Professionally, while previously serving as President and CEO of Ingevity, and personally, we have chosen LCFB as a giving partner, and we’ve seen first-hand, through sponsorship of fresh produce distributions, how fresh, healthy food helps our neighbors who suffer from food insecurity. Now, during this challenging time, we want to help ensure that our neighbors who struggle can put food on the table, help the LCFB meet its increased demand to distribute healthy food, and inspire additional donors to give.”
Michael and Pam Wilson and LCFB executives will be on hand at the upcoming LCFB COVID-19 relief food distribution on Saturday, April 11 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 111 Waring Drive, Summerville, SC, 29483, at 8:00 a.m. to provide additional comments about how monetary donations from the community will help many Lowcountry citizens.
“Our expenses will continue to increase as COVID-19 further evolves and we will continue to need significant monetary support for continued implementation of our programs that feed seniors, children, families, veterans and individuals throughout coastal South Carolina. We also need to fill the additional, large-scale meal gaps this pandemic has created in our Lowcountry community,” said Pat Walker, LCFB President & CEO. “This amazing donation from Michael and Pam Wilson could not have come at a better time. We are grateful for the Wilson’s generosity, which will enable us to procure and distribute truckloads of healthy food to thousands of our neighbors. We cannot express how much this donation will positively impact our community during this unprecedented time.”
In the last two weeks of March since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the LCFB distributed a total of more than 800,000 meals and more than 960,000 pounds of food through its partner agencies. During this same time period, 30% of the LCFB’s total food distribution has been comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables. The following points illustrate the increased demand on the LCFB during the last two weeks of March alone.
- A 379% increase in the number of people who come to the Food Bank for emergency food assistance.
- 15% of the 300 LCFB partner agencies and food pantries that deliver food directly to clients are closed, creating fewer locations for those in need to find food.
- A 43% increase in new clients at LCFB agency partners and food pantries.
- The distribution of more than 4,000 disaster food boxes.
- The distribution of more than 6,600 BackPacks to children who depend on free school breakfast and lunch meals that are not currently available because of school closures.
- A 200% increase on the “Find Help” LCFB web page that provides an agency or food pantry location near a person’s home.
In March, the LCFB quickly adjusted its business model due to drastic declines in retail food donations, social distancing limitations on volunteer efforts, and the need for low-contact distributions. Drive-thru food distribution models were created to protect LCFB partner agencies and food pantries, LCFB neighbors in need, volunteers and employees.
The LCFB also increased its already stringent food safety and safe handling practices to include social distancing and additional sterilization procedures as recommended by the CDC.
To donate to COVID-19 food relief efforts, visit https://www.lowcountryfoodbank.org/covid19/.