For Immediate Release 4/7/2020 Greater Washington County Food Bank See Dramatic Increase In Need and Turns to Virtual Food Drives Not unexpectedly, given the dramatic numbers around unemployment being reported across Pennsylvania, the Greater Washington County Food Bank is seeing a huge jump in the numbers of people needing emergency food assistance. Many of those who have lost their income and have no money to buy food for themselves and their families are not able to collect unemployment, and no one has seen any sign of promised stimulus checks yet. In a normal economic downturn, the Food Bank would call for help via a food drive. However, the very same pandemic that has caused unemployment to sky-rocket and family incomes to disappear, makes what we all know food drives as impossible. So, in true Greater Washington County Food Bank tradition, this critical service provider innovated! The same Food Bank that is leading their peers with the Truck To Trunk Model is now leading the way with Virtual Food Drives. “Over $59,000 has been challenged and over $13,000 raised since these were initially launched this week,” says Joy Braunstein, Donor Relations Coordinator, “We see this a great opportunity for everyone to get involved, basically as ‘Food Heroes’ from home and help to feed their neighbors who would otherwise go without.” The program is the brainchild of, and collaboration between, Greater Washington County Food Bank and initially Consolidated Wellsite Services. Within days, it has expanded to seven different organizations, ranging from businesses to schools to philanthropic groups. The Food Bank is asking more organizations to step up. One of the most heartwarming of those virtual food drives is the story of the Trinity Middle School Student Council. “We participate in various philanthropic projects throughout the school year, and we decided to host a virtual food drive because we want to make sure that none of our neighbors go hungry during this challenging time. We love the food pantry and appreciate what it does for our community. In fact, each fall, students from our school visit the food bank to learn about hunger issues in our community and volunteer their time and energy,” states Francesca Cortese, English teacher at Trinity Middle School. Justin McAtee, Marketing Manager for the Food Bank added, “We have seen the community really step up and look for ways to help. Most people are stuck in their homes and are seeking a way to make a difference. It has been amazing to connect these individuals and organizations to the idea of a virtual food drive. When I had my first conversation about this, I could never have imagined it taking off like this.” The Greater Washington County Food Bank is anticipating greater need with client requests for supplemental food increasing exponentially over the next few months. “The longer that COVID-19 keeps people home, the steeper the number of those who are relying on Food Bank assistance will rise,” says Connie Burd, Executive Director. “Washington County has unique challenges. It is largely rural, with communities that are not connected by mass transit, like our neighbor Allegheny. And we are a Pittsburgh commuter county. A lot of our residents are laid off from their jobs in Allegheny County, but are not eligible for benefits there because they live across the border. We are here to make sure they do not fall through the cracks.” The Food Bank can purchase 25 meals from every $5 donated, so a $100 donation actually provides 500 meals! In addition to Virtual Food Drives, the organization has launched a couple of virtual education opportunities with The Farm and The Healthy Habits Training Center. These are broadcast via FaceBook Live on Tuesdays and Fridays. For more information contact Justin McAtee at email@example.com or 724-632-2190 x128.