Alabama Food Bank Association Receives a $100,000 Grant from Truist for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

ALABAMA, April 21, 2020 – Alabama Food Bank Association today announced it received a $100,000 grant from Truist Financial Corporation to help provide hunger relief to Alabama families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used to support the four Feeding America food banks in Alabama as they respond to this unprecedented crisis. Children have lost the school meals they depend on, families are struggling with lost wages, and seniors are more at risk for hunger than ever before.

The grant is part of the financial services company’s Truist Cares initiative, a $25 million philanthropic pledge announced in March to support basic needs, medical supplies and financial hardship relief due to COVID-19.

Alabama Food Bank Association is grateful to Truist for their tremendous support of Alabama communities. “Because of the generous support from Truist, our food banks are able to serve families in economic crisis during this pandemic,” said Laura Lester, executive director of the Alabama Food Bank Association. “Our hunger-relief programs help deliver millions of pounds of nutritious food to the communities we serve across Alabama.”

Truist Alabama Regional President Burton McDonald states, “These are tough times, and community support is now more critical than ever. We are honored to partner with the great work of the Alabama Food Bank Association in providing relief to Alabama families.”

About Alabama Food Bank Association

The Alabama Food Bank Association works to end hunger by assisting the food bank network in obtaining more food and funds, fostering public awareness of the food banks’ mission, and creating partnerships to help alleviate hunger in Alabama. Every day, the eight food banks in Alabama partner with a statewide network of food donors, emergency food pantries, and soup kitchens to provide food to hungry people. Fighting hunger requires significant funding for every step of the process—from acquiring food, to storing the food, to transporting the food to people in need. Learn more atalfba.org.

About Truist

Truist Financial Corporation is a purpose-driven financial services company committed to inspire and build better lives and communities. With 275 years of combined BB&T and SunTrust history, Truist serves approximately 12 million households with leading market share in many high-growth markets in the country. The company offers a wide range of services including retail, small business and commercial banking; asset management; capital markets; commercial real estate; corporate and institutional banking; insurance; mortgage; payments; specialized lending and wealth management. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Truist is the sixth-largest commercial bank in the U.S. with total assets of $506 billion as of March 31, 2020. Truist Bank, Member FDIC. Learn more at Truist.com.

No Kid Hungry Launches New Meal Sites Website

No Kid Hungry has launched a new website to make sure families have quick and easy access to information about meal locations nearby:

No Kid Hungry Meal Finder Website

Information on this website is also accessible by texting “Food” or “Comida” to 877-877.

Meal sites can add their location to the list by going to www.freemealsforkids.com! This will put the organization on the map and include the site as part of No Kid Hungry’s texting data bank.

Taking it to the Bank: Fighting Hunger in East Alabama

Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute Graduate Research Assistants Sara Rains and Malerie Goodman volunteered at the Food Bank of East Alabama

After sending out ECHA’s “rallying cry” for Alabama food banks, employees of the Hunger Solutions Institute wanted to be some of the first people signing up for a shift at our local food bank. It’s one thing to encourage others to take that step, and it’s another to put your words into action!

We have all been instructed to stay at home to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19, so it seems a little intimidating to willingly venture into the presence of strangers and volunteer! Luckily for our fellow volunteers and us, the Food Bank of East Alabama was prepared with a safe and organized environment in which we could serve our community.

The sign up process was simple: visit the website, find an open slot, and add one’s name to the list. After signing in for our shift, we were provided with quick and thorough training for our task and given clear instructions. Sara and I (Malerie) spent roughly two hours of our morning inspecting donated food items to make sure they were not expired or unsafe, and then we sorted them into categories. It was simple work, easily performed even with social-distancing measures in place. And when we had been home each day with the same scenery and company, this was a welcome change of pace!

Here are some suggestions for anyone interested in volunteering at the local food bank:

Wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes.

Observe CDC guidelines for social distancing. Wear a mask if possible.

Frequently wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

Encourage friends and family to join you! (Check with the food bank regarding appropriate ages for child volunteers).

Stay home if you suspect you may be sick or you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

This is a perfect opportunity for low-risk individuals to serve the community during a time in which there is such great need!

Have you been volunteering in your community? Let us know! We are happy to share your experience and provide others with ideas as to how they can safely and effectively help meet the needs of Alabama citizens during this time!

A Rallying Cry for Alabama Food Banks

Recent news stories have indicated that many food banks throughout the nation are struggling to meet the demand for food assistance. In spite of receiving $450 million dollars from recent federal legislation to meet the needs of the food-insecure, the numbers of individuals currently accessing food banks suggest this will not meet the needs long-term. (Source)

Alabama received nearly 81,000 new unemployment claims last week alone (Source), so it’s no surprise that a number of food banks throughout the state have felt demand soar in recent days as people who previously had a reliable source of income now find themselves short on funds. Local food bank needs include money, food donations, and volunteers (Source).

The Hunger Solutions Institute is currently brainstorming ways to use our partner networks (Presidents United to Solve Hunger [PUSH], Universities Fighting World Hunger [UFWH], and the Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs [ACCBN]) to coordinate efforts throughout the state and nation-wide to make sure families are receiving the food they need. We encourage all of the stakeholders for End Child Hunger in Alabama to consider how they may do the same to support local food banks!

Here are some ideas to send out a “rallying cry” for Alabama food banks:

Inform: Make sure your website and/or social media networks include information about the need for donations and volunteers!

Recruit: Encourage your team and patrons to seek out opportunities to volunteer. The state-wide website, ALtogetherAlabama.org, makes it easy for interested parties to add themselves to a database for volunteer opportunities. Or you can find information about volunteering at food banks here!

Encourage Donations: The Food Bank of Alabama Association makes it easy to donate to your local food bank by linking all the donation locations in one place: Click here to find opportunities to donate!

Share What Works: We know that each of our ECHA stakeholders brings something unique to our community. You know the culture of your organization and how you may best serve – directly, or by motivating others – those who are in need! Please let us know how you are helping meet the needs of Alabama’s citizens so we can share your great ideas!

Alabama Meals for Kids

Due to the trouble many people have been having accessing information on the USDA’s Meals 4 Kids website , we are posting the user-friendly map here!

Please note that some sites visible on this map indicate end dates that have already passed, but many of these sites continue to serve meals for children. We recommend contacting the meal site directly, or following up on the site’s webpage or Facebook page, for additional information.

Alabama State Food Program Waivers

Description:

Emergency Allotments to Current SNAP Households allows the State of Alabama to increase “current monthly allotment up to the maximum monthly allotment for a household of that size.” Emergency allotments will be added to the existing EBT card for March and April.

Description:

  • Summer Meals Non-congregate Feeding
  • Meal Times: This waiver allows for the serving of meals outside of the standard meal times
  • Non-congregate Feeding: This waiver will minimized potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), by allowing the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program, to serve meals outside of the standard group setting.
  • Afterschool Activity: USDA has granted a nationwide waiver that grants states the flexibility to serve afterschool snacks and meals outside of a structured environment and without an educational or enrichment purpose. 
  • Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver: FNS waives, for all states, the requirements at 7 CFR 210.10(b) and (c), 220.8(b) and (c), 225.16(d), and 226.20, to serve meals that meet the meal pattern requirements during the public health emergency.
  • Nationwide Parent/Guardian Meal Pickup Waiver: FNS has begun granting waivers that allow states approved for non-congregate feeding, greater flexiblities which allow parents and/or guardians to pick up meals for their children, without the student needing to be present. 
  • Nationwide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Data Waiver: FNS is is extending the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) deadlines for the School Year 2020-2021
  • Nationwide Waivers of Child Nutrition Monitoring: USDA has granted a nationwide waiver, providing flexibilities to certain onsite monitoring requirements for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program
  • Area Eligibility SFSP/SSO: This waiver allows SFSP and SSO sponsors in good standing to operate open sites in areas approved by ALSDE and consistent with the State plan, but that are not located in areas in which poor economic conditions exist
  • 60 Day Reporting Waiver: FNS has extended the deadline for all state agencies, school food authorities and organizations by 60 days.

Descriptions:

  • Physical Presence Waiver: The approval to waive the physical presence requirement includes the ability to defer anthropometric and bloodwork requirements necessary to determine nutritional risk
  • Remote Benefit Issuance Waiver: This waiver allows Alabama WIC to remotely issue benefits to any participant
  • Food Package Substitution Waiver: USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approves the waiver request through May 31, 2020 in the following manner: Whole Wheat/Whole Grain Bread. Participants will be allowed to substitute authorized whole grains in package sizes up to 24 oz. when 16 oz. packages are unavailable.
  • Separation of Duties: This waives the requirement that prohibits a single employee from determining eligibility for all certification criteria and issuing food instruments, cash-value vouchers or supplemental food for the same participant

(Source)

Updated School Meal Site List

The USDA’s Meals 4 Kids website has not been reliably accessible to view sites in Alabama that are providing school meals to children during the COVID-19 crisis. End Child Hunger in Alabama (ECHA) is including this modified spreadsheet, retrieved from the USDA website earlier this week. Sites that have passed the “end date” of the program, or sites that have a future “start date” are not included. The contact phone number for each site is included, and we highly recommend that all questions be directed to the listed contact person. The spreadsheet is alphabetized by county. We will provide updates on this page when available.

Food Bank Volunteer Opportunities

From the www.servealabama.gov website:

FOOD BANKS: The need for food banks and food pantries during this national emergency is anticipated to grow with reduced and/or disappearing paychecks and children no longer getting their regular school meals because of the school closures. Many people who have never needed these services before will now find themselves needing food assistance for the first time.

  • Community Food Bank of Central Alabama: The safety of our staff, volunteers, and community remains our highest priority. We are taking extra precautions, including increased cleaning and sanitizing of our facility.  At this time, volunteer sessions in our warehouse are cancelled through the end of the month. Keep an eye out HERE for opportunities to help with Mobile Pantry distributions. Please email volunteer@feedingal.org for more information.  
  • Feeding the Gulf Coast: The three main volunteering needs at this time are: 1) food sorting, volunteers check donated products for expiration dates and ingredient labels then place the items in proper food categories. 2) Senior boxes, volunteers pack food boxes for monthly distribution to seniors. 3) Backpack, volunteers pack backpacks with food for kids to have over the weekend.  All volunteers must wear closed-toe shoes. For more information, contact Missy at mbusby@feedingthegulfcoast.org  or Andrea at  aodom@feedingthegulfcoast.org or call (251) 653-1617.  Location: 5248 Mobile South Street, Theodore, AL 36582. ​
  • East Alabama Food Bank: Volunteer opportunities include repacking bulk foods in the warehouse, packing boxes for our programs, office tasks, sorting product, stocking shelves, etc.  To volunteer, sign up at: https://foodbankofeastalabama.com/donate/volunteer .   Email  food-bank@foodbankofeastalabma.com for more information.  Crisis Needs: Donations of food and funds are also needed. 

SNAP Updates for Alabama

Source: www.AL.com

According to www.AL.com, Alabama SNAP beneficiaries will receive the maximum benefits available for their family size, regardless of household income, during the months of March and April. (Read more here).

In addition, SNAP recipients will now be able to purchase some grocery items online through Amazon.com. (Read more here)