When there was an unprecedented time of need … food banks across America met it with an unprecedented response.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Until Red & Black started taking some interesting detours, Red never thought about food banks and didn't understand everything that they do; and although Black did, it wasn't until the pandemic that she fully appreciated how many people face food insecurity (in 2021, it could be over 40 million people, including 13 million children).

Red's perspective changed when we started doing speaking engagements across the country for the Morgridge Family Foundation back in 2014-2015. Their conference not only attracted K-12 teachers but also educators teaching at organizations, such as food banks. At the Orlando event, we were introduced to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and after a tour of its facilities and conversations with its innovative President and CEO and the Life Skills Education Manager, Red quickly realized how little she knew about food banks,

Who knew that food banks provided so much more than just food? Well, I certainly didn't! How was I to know they provided life skills classes (including learning about money) and taught technical skills to help prepare individuals for a successful career (not just a job) in the food industry? Which reminds me of that quote, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

Black, on the other hand, was already familiar with the Feeding America organization (approximately 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries across the country), often being a lifeline for those in need. So, she wasn't surprised that when the pandemic struck, they were there on the front line as the need for food skyrocketed. But still, she was caught off-guard,

What I find disheartening is the number of people who were first-time food bank recipients – people who in the past might have been donors or volunteers. Just look at the pictures of the cars, some very nice cars, waiting in line for hours, hoping to get food for their children, their neighbors, and, possibly, themselves. We have not seen food lines in America since the Great Depression, and they are a frightening reminder of the devastation of the pandemic. Yet, at the same time, we are reminded how critical food banks are to the well-being of communities. And, dependent on the generosity of others.

If you feel that you've been fortunate during the pandemic, please consider reaching out to help others that are less fortunate by donating – money or time – to your local Feeding America Food Bank.

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