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Local foodbank resumes USDA food distributions for low-income families

Food banks
Posted at 4:20 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 19:32:25-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore relaunched its emergency food assistance program and began distributing food boxes Friday.

A steady stream of cars lined up at the Foodbank as volunteers filled their trunks with food to help them get by.

For Marline Thorne of Chesapeake, the box is a lifeline.

“So many people really need it and so many people really depend on places like this to go to,” Thorne said.

She said she’s out of work, on disability and her husband is a senior citizen.

It’s the Chesapeake family’s first time back since the start of the pandemic. With soaring prices at the grocery store and pump, the distribution event couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The gas prices, the meats and stuff is so expensive,” said Thorne. “I just appreciate they have places like this to go.”

The food is free through the federal government for eligible low-income families.

Anyone who earns no more than 185% beyond the state's poverty line is eligible to receive assistance through this USDA program.

Eligible families received a 42-pound box of food, including lean protein and fresh vegetables and fruits.

The Foodbank teamed back up with the USDA after a two- year hiatus because of COVID-19 and a lack of volunteers.

David Brandt, the Foodbank’s senior director of communications, said they’re still down more than 5,000 volunteers and are also dealing with inflation and supply chain issues.

“This coming in from the federal government alleviates that burden and allows us to get more in the way of those items that are really hard to find, like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, dairy, things like that,” Brandt said. “You’re getting a very high-quality level of food here.”

Though they had a lower turnout than they hoped Friday, Brandt says they’re hoping with this program making a comeback, they’ll be able to serve more families in need like Thorne’s.

“It’ll help carry us on throughout the month,” said Thorne.

Friday's distribution event was the first in a series of regular distributions at the Foodbank's warehouse, located at 800 Tidewater Drive in Norfolk.

To register for the federal program, call (757) 995-3256 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Applicants will be asked to provide their name, address, phone number, number of people in their household and self-declared monthly income.

Only one person per household may register for that household, and eligible families may receive only one emergency food box per month.

If you’re food insecure but are not USDA qualified, there are other programs at the foodbank. Click here for more information.