In an average month, Brian Barks, the CEO of Food Bank for the Heartland, spends about $73,000 buying food to distribute to people in need across Nebraska and western Iowa.
Last month, as the coronavirus was spreading across the U.S., he spent $675,000.
That’s a nearly tenfold increase, because Food Bank for the Heartland, like food banks and pantries across the country, is facing a steep drop-off in the bread and butter of its operations: food donated by supermarkets and farms.
“The grocery stores, as we’ve seen across the country, the shelves are getting bare,” Barks said. “They don’t have extra to hand out to food banks. And what we’re anticipating is that those donations will drop to zero.”