Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Greater Boston Food Bank has gone from distributing a million pounds of food a week to two and a half million in Eastern Massachusetts, and this winter promises to be even more challenging. Catherine D'Amato, Greater Boston Food Bank President and CEO, joined Joe Mathieu on Morning Edition to discuss the “unprecedented” rising demand for food across the state, and what people can do to help.

According to a study from Feeding America, Massachusetts has experienced the largest relative increase in food insecurity this year, compared to all other states, at 59%. And Norfolk County has experienced the largest change in food insecurity of any county in the country for children, at 163%. D’Amato says that one in eight people in the state are food-insecure, and one of five of those is a child. “This is a dramatic change from one in 13 just this past March,” she said.

"We know that there will be no vaccine to fix hunger. It doesn't exist. It never has."
Catherine D'Amato, Greater Boston Food Bank CEO

This season, the Greater Boston Food Bank anticipates nearly one million people will seek help. D’Amato says pantries are reporting that up to 50% of individuals who are seeking help have never visited a food bank before. “That's a direct result of unemployment and business closures,” D’Amato said. “This pandemic is pervasive. It's touching people in every way possible from sadness, loss of life, illness [and] loss of job.”

Watch: Is there a certain area that's seeing a higher demand?

GBFB launched a COVID relief task force back in February to prepare for the rise in need, and storms won’t slow that effort this winter. “We are prepared any time there's inclement weather,” D’Amato said. “We live in New England. This is not new to us.” What’s new is social distancing, and D’Amato says GBFB has risen to the challenge of distributing food to people despite the logistical challenges of social distancing, PPE, and limited volunteers.

Even as the historic COVID vaccine ushers in hope, D’Amato says families will still struggle. “The solution is political and personal will, along with food and making sure that the access to healthy food is consistent and available to all communities, all 351 towns in our Commonwealth.”

For anyone wishing to help, D’Amato recommends advocacy, calling the Massachusetts delegation to encourage a COVID relief package, and donating to the Food Bank at