Our vision is creating a community where no neighbor experiences hunger. That was a daunting enough challenge when 2020 began; the pandemic has made it an even more difficult task. Demand for food in our 14-county service area is up 40% since early March. The economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 has brought hundreds, if not thousands, of new people into our distribution system. We have worked closely with our 230 partner agencies to meet that demand and have been successful.
We have been successful in large part because of the extraordinary financial support of our communities. Almost immediately, donations began flowing in at record levels. The average gift increased exponentially; a $50,000 matching grant challenge offered by friends of the Food Bank on Lake Burton netted more than $225,000 in less than two weeks; and as a result of a $100 million grant to Feeding America from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, we received a remarkable gift of $472,000!
Granting organizations created pandemic relief funds and streamlined their application processes to make funds available. We received several significant grants that have helped us keep our food supply at a level which has allowed us to respond to the increased need.
I am deeply proud of the Food Bank staff, who have responded to this challenge with an attitude of determination and commitment to our vision. Knowing that they were risking their lives by doing so, they came to work each because even more of their neighbors were hungry and they wanted to help feed them. I am humbled to call myself their colleague.
I am convinced that we are in the early stage of a crisis that is going to last for many more months. I am also convinced of the inherent goodness of people, as evidenced by the support of our communities. Their response is shining light into the lives of those seeking hope in unsettling times, and I am grateful for it.
How can you help? Our primary need is financial contributions to ensure a constant supply of food for our agencies and clients. You can donate at our website, foodbanknega.org. We are also accepting donations of food at our warehouse, 861 Newton Bridge Road, Athens and 46 Plaza Way in Clayton.