MANCHESTER, N.H. — The New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire, is taking steps in preparation for an anticipated increase in food insecurity due to the statewide impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Along with increasing food purchasing, the New Hampshire Food Bank is working with agencies across the state to provide critical resources and to understand where the need is greatest. The New Hampshire Food Bank established a dedicated webpage, www.nhfoodbank.org/covid-19/, to provide a secure online portal for making donations, and also to keep employees, partners and clients informed.
“We are already seeing an overall increase in orders and we are seeing a number of agencies that have not needed our resources in some time reaching out and placing orders for food,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director, New Hampshire Food Bank. “With many people now out of work, coupled with families who typically depend on free and reduced school meals, we know the need is rising fast and we are taking every possible step to ensure we can provide food to those in need.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Hampshire Food bank will host modified mobile food pantries, in which the New Hampshire Food Bank will drop-off a truckload of food with a partner agency, and the partner agency will handle distribution to families and individuals in need.
In addition, the New Hampshire Food Bank’s culinary kitchen has doubled meal production and is providing ready-to-eat meals to its partner agencies, including North Country Senior Meals, which is experiencing a shortage of staff and volunteers. In addition, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire is distributing meals from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Concord, as well as their sites in Allenstown and Laconia, to families in need.
“This is a difficult time for everyone as we know the pandemic is taking an economic toll locally and across the country,” Liponis said. “We know an individual’s situation can change quickly and we want the public to know we are here as a resource for those in need no matter the circumstances.”
For those who are able, the New Hampshire Food Bank is encouraging individuals and businesses to make cash donations, which will allow the New Hampshire Food Bank to purchase food for statewide distribution. The New Hampshire Food Bank, which receives no state or federal funding for food distribution, can turn every dollar donated into approximately two nutritious meals.
When donating to any cause or nonprofit organization, the New Hampshire Food Bank is also reminding the public to verify sources before donating.
“Unfortunately, there are those who will try to capitalize on difficult times, such as these, so we just remind people to take the time to make sure the cause or nonprofit is legitimate,” Liponis added.
In order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the New Hampshire Food Bank is currently not accepting volunteers and is taking extra measures of precaution with its own sanitation process.
The COVID-19 pandemic comes as the need continues to grow in New Hampshire, where one in nine residents are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. During 2019, the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed more than 14.2 million pounds of food to its more than 425 partner agencies statewide. This year, because of the growing demand, the New Hampshire Food Bank expects to continue increasing food distribution.
For more information and to donate, visit: www.nhfoodbank.org/covid-19.