If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that community and group efforts can come a long way. Food banks across the country have had to adapt to the “new normal” and quickly change their distribution models to serve the unprecedented rise in demand. Among the many food banks adapting to the new restrictions, The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank turned to the prepacked boxes from the MARC, which quickly became a vital resource to the food bank. “The fact that the MARC offers mixed produce in individual boxes has just been phenomenal,” stated Andrew Council, Food Sourcing Manager at the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank.
With just over 30 paid employees, The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank’s operation depends on volunteers, and COVID-19 certainly impacted the ability to recruit help. As demand continued to increase, the food bank relied on the MARC boxes to do more with less volunteers. “Pre-COVID, our largest distributions might have been 200, maybe 300 clients, but when COVID hit we jumped up to every distribution being 500-600 clients served,” explained Council. “Some of our distributions were upwards of 800 households, and it was just beating us down because we couldn’t get the volunteers. With the MARC Boxes, we are able to consolidate and use just one volunteer that could distribute all of their produce. It was huge for us.”
While the MARC has been an extremely valuable resource during this pandemic, Council also noted that even before COVID, their partnership has helped increase their variety and has given them more time to focus on other aspects of their operation. “When I first began sourcing at the food bank prior to working with the MARC, it was an ongoing struggle trying to go out and find different produce items. Having to go to this place to get potatoes, this place to get onions, this location for cabbages, and so on and so forth,” Council emphasized. “The MARC really made it so easy to source at one location at a really good price point. Not having to source multiple locations to get the variety that we’re getting has cut down on time for me to allocate towards other projects as well.”
From the very beginning, it’s been a truly a collaborative effort between the MARC and The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank. “Food banking gets busy, and the follow through from top to bottom has been extremely helpful and the customer service has just been phenomenal,” stated Council. “Kudos to the MARC team.”
Learn more about the MARC: https://www.feedingpa.org/our-programs/marc/