Food banks across South Florida struggling to find volunteers

Posted at 8:29 AM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 08:29:26-05

Food banks across South Florida are scrambling to find volunteers.

In addition to dealing with food shortages and prices hikes, local nonprofits like Boca Helping Hands and the Treasure Coast Food Bank are also having a tough time finding help.

The latest surge in omicron cases is to blame.

"I think this is probably one of the worst we've ever seen throughout the whole pandemic," said Tara Currier, volunteer manager at Boca Helping Hands. There have been ups and downs when it first started it was rough, then picked up a little bit and then when delta hit it was rough and it had just started ticking back up and then omicron came so we're probably at one of the roughest points right now."

Each morning the organization hosts a drive-thru food distribution where typically around 40 volunteers would show up, but now with omicron lingering, they’re lucky if they can get more than 20. Currier said there's been about a 40% drop in volunteers, most from seniors who have decided to take a step back just to be on the safe side.

"Our younger volunteers are dedicated volunteers, they are still here, chugging along. But, you know, we're seeing less numbers of volunteers coming in. So we're really looking for some people to step in and help during this challenging time."

Treasure Coast Food Bank is also struggling. Since the pandemic, President and Chief Executive Officer, Judith Cruz said she's lost about half of her volunteer staff which makes it much harder to meet the needs of the community and help put food on the table.

"You need those bodies, when you're preparing meals to be distributed, or packaging, and preparing family meal boxes to go out. It's human labor that's required to do that, and you can't get around it. So we're trying, you know, hard to keep operation costs low, and make sure our output doesn't drop, when it comes to supporting the community," said Cruz.

Some of the positions that are available include sorting, packaging, home deliveries and food drive pick-ups.

To get involved with Boca Helping Hands, click here.

For the Treasure Coast Food Bank, click here.