Written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern
With the increase in inflation and a tipping economy, more people are going hungry not just across the world, but also in our local communities.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is on a mission to make sure that everyone has enough to eat by providing nutritious food, produce and more to local individuals and partner programs.
Partner pantries across the Blue Ridge area receive donated or purchased food and much of that has been sorted by volunteers to ensure quality and safety when it’s provided to community members.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank website features an interactive map called Food Finder, where individuals can find the closest partner pantry to where they can access the food and resources they need.
In its last fiscal year, July 2022 to June 2023, the food bank served 127, 500 people every month. About 28,000 of those people were served in the Greater Lynchburg area alone.
The Food Bank distributed 27.4 million pounds of food last year which has risen dramatically year-over-year. However before those goods can go out into the community they first must be sorted.
This sorting and quality assurance is done by volunteers who can sign up for sorting shifts four times per week in the mornings and afternoons at the local Lynchburg warehouse.
Last year this was made possible by thousands of volunteers who altogether contributed over 26,000 hours of service towards making sure their neighbors were provided food to take home.
Volunteer opportunities are open and available at their SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile here.
Food is mainly received through donations, purchases, or food drives hosted by local organizations, schools and churches. However, the food bank also accepts monetary donations where every dollar helps provide four meals to someone facing hunger.
They also serve fresh produce, which accounted for 30% of food donations last year, or 8.2 million pounds.
Communications and PR manager, Les Sinclair says, “We really want to get the word out and let folks know that if they need food, we have it, we are not running in short supply and you will not be taking from anyone else if you go to a food pantry or Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and receive the food that’s provided for you to take home.”
The Food Bank also partners with 95 organizations throughout its southern region, including the Lynchburg Daily Bread and Park View Community Mission to provide food to be used in ready made meals and distributed to individuals as needed.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank touches so many different parts of the community and has one of the biggest hands in supporting people in bringing meals home..
To learn more about the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank visit their SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile.