CLEVELAND, Ohio — Giant Eagle has committed $125,000 to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Backpack for Kids program to help provide students and their families with nutritious meals this school year, as demand has jumped during the pandemic.
Greater Cleveland Foodbank has seen over a 30 percent uptick in need since the pandemic started. The organization has served over 300,000 people since mid-March.
“We are very lucky to have the support of Parma and Giant Eagle to help us to give food for the kids and helping them get the help they need,” says Diana Davet, director of planning for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank.
The Foodbank’s BackPack for Kids program works with nearly 100 partners to help students who have historically relied on schools for breakfast and lunch. The partners distribute the packs of food to their families — at Parma Senior High School on Monday, in a drive-through in the parking lot.
Parents drove up in their cars to collect backpacks full of nonperishable food, boxes of produce, and milk. The event is repeated twice a week, with each drive supporting nearly 300 Parma families.
The school district’s nutritional services supervisor, Bob Gorman, says it’s incredible to hear the “thank you”s from families.
“Food scarcity happens in Parma too,” said Gorman.
The Parma school district receives some of its own donations, but the Greater Cleveland Foodbank has been helping it supplement some donations.
Nationally, Feeding America — which works with 200 food banks — is bracing for an 8 billion meal shortage by next July.
The majority of food banks report seeing a record increase in the number of people needing help, with an average increase of 60% across the country, according to Feeding America. With demand for food up donations down and everyone worried about germs, there are bound to be ramifications.
Between March and June, roughly 4 in 10 people visiting food banks had not received food assistance before the pandemic.
Davet says these distributions are making sure families are getting the meals and supplies that the kids need.
Giant Eagle has committed $500,000 to regional Feeding America food banks to support K-12 learning, including the $125,000 in Greater Cleveland.
“Since the pandemic started at Giant Eagle, we really saw the opportunity to rediscover our commitment to feeding people,” said Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan. “We realized we had to do more.”
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