The COVID-19 pandemic has had a chilling effect on food banks. Donations are down and food costs are soaring, meaning charities have fewer items to distribute. Meanwhile, the need today is higher than during the 2008 recession, at least according to one estimate. 

Appearing on Motley Fool Live on Nov. 11, Motley Fool contributor Lou Whiteman lays out why this year, more than ever, food banks need our help.


Lou Whiteman: I'll be quick here, but in the past few years I've been involved with a local non-profit that each year cooks and distributes Thanksgiving meals. They've just had their 2020 planning session via Zoom (NASDAQ:ZM), of course, but wow, was it a sobering experience. It's a difficult year for them and I think for all of the charities out there, especially the ones fighting hunger. They haven't been able to do the events they normally do during the year to raise money with fewer people out and about. If you look at the reports, charitable giving in some areas is down. Meanwhile, due to supply chain issues, COVID-related concerns, food prices are up.

Unfortunately, the need is much bigger this year as well. There was a Consumer Reports survey just last week, one in five American grocery shoppers has used a food bank or other food distribution charity since the pandemic began. One in five. That's worse than what happened in 2008 during the financial crisis. Feeding America, which is another nonprofit estimates that 50 million Americans, including 17 million children, lack regular access to nutritious food right now, which it's heartbreaking.

What can we do? This is my little plug, please consider giving to a local food bank around Thanksgiving or whenever you can. This need goes well beyond Thanksgiving. While it's tricky to do right now during the pandemic, once it's behind us, there are so many great food banks, great soup kitchens out there that desperately need your help. It's a great experience. Food is such a basic need. It's so important. Just something to keep on the radar screen this holiday season, there's so much that can be done and it's selfish because it feels so good to do it. Just keep that in mind as things get busy or not so busy depending on how the holidays go for you this year.

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