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Children and families experiencing poverty are disproportionately impacted during public health emergencies.

With school closures, many children who receive free or reduced-price lunches through the national School Lunch Program (NSLP) no longer have reliable access to these meals.

The increased demand for food, combined with a lack of volunteers as so many are sheltering in place, is leaving food banks overwhelmed.

Cisco has always supported nonprofits working to help reduce food insecurity. Since March, we’ve provided additional funding to four strategic nonprofit partners that are working to ensure that families have food on the table. Here is how they are taking action:

Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. They established a COVID-19 Response Fund to help their network of over 200 food banks better meet the needs of their communities impacted by the pandemic. The fund will enable food banks to secure the resources they need to serve the most vulnerable members of society. Their nationwide network of food banks will need an estimated $1.4 billion over the next six months. Feeding America is working with government leaders to ensure a robust emergency response, and is partnering with school districts and local governmental agencies to provide food to children. They are also building an inventory of emergency food boxes, providing emergency grants to food banks, and continuing the distribution of food and non-food household items like cleaning supplies, diapers, and personal care products.

 

One in ten people in Silicon Valley receive food from Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves the most vulnerable members of our community. They provide food to an average of 250,000+ kids, families, and seniors every month through their programs and network of 310 nonprofit partners at 1,000 sites. Amid the  shutdown, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is facing unprecedented challenges, with a depleted volunteer workforce, traditional distribution networks shutting down, and ever-increasing levels of food insecurity. Now more than ever, they need support to make sure that anyone who needs a healthy meal can get one. Cisco’s funding is going toward Second Harvest’s COVID-19 Fund for Feeding Families to provide food assistance for those financially impacted by the pandemic.

 

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina (the Food Bank) is a nonprofit organization that has provided food to individuals facing hunger in 34 counties for the past 40 years. Cisco has a long-standing partnership with this food bank given its proximity to our North Carolina site, home to 5,808 employees. In addition to their normal operations, the Food Bank has distributed over 11,000 family-sized boxes, containing 20 meals per box, in response to the current crisis. Through coordinated efforts, these boxes are going to disaster relief partner agencies, some school districts in their service area, and several Meals on Wheels chapters.

 

Based in Oakland, California, Replate is a nonprofit with a mission to reduce food waste and food insecurity through its food recovery platform. Businesses with surplus food can use Replate’s technology platform to schedule on-demand pickups for their surplus food, and deliver these meals to local nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity. In response to COVID-19, Replate has adapted its platform and expanded its partnerships to meet the changing need across the country. Replate is now picking up food from restaurants, farmers markets, and ghost kitchens, and delivering directly to food relief organizations, shelters, and individuals. Cisco’s support is helping Replate adapt its platform and scale its response activities to meet the incredible need during this time.

Important Resources

 According to the United Nations (UN), food insecurity was already a severe problem before the pandemic. More than 820 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat. Of those, 113 million are suffering from severe hunger that poses a risk to their life. The economic impact from the pandemic will cause those numbers to rise, and the most vulnerable groups–like the urban poor and people who live in remote areas–will be impacted the most.

According to Business Insider, more than 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past three weeks, bringing national jobless rates up to 13 percent and leaving families struggling with hunger. Food banks have become a safety net to many people who may not have needed their services before or didn’t need them as often. People are waiting in drive-through pantry lines that are miles long due to the dramatic increase in need for food assistance.

How you can help food banks in your community

To meet the increasing demand, food banks will need more donations and volunteers to provide food to people facing hunger and to sustain and evolve operations. You can support your local food banks in several different ways: Raise awareness by following your local food bank on social media and sharing their updates, consider donating funds or even volunteering your time, and use your voice to advocate for an end to hunger.