Impact of pandemic empties Czech food banks, nationwide collection set for November 21

In some regions, food banks have seen a 50 percent increase in clients due to the state of emergency imposed by the government.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger Published on 10.11.2020 18:00:00 (updated on 11.11.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

Restrictions imposed due to the state of emergency imposed by the government in an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic has made life financially difficult for many single and young families, as well as affecting the elderly. In some regions, as many as 50 percent of people affected turn to non-profit organizations for basic food needs. In some cases, food banks no longer have enough supplies in their warehouses to meet demand.

"We know that there has been a significant increase in the number of families in need, single women and seniors who have found themselves in problematic situations or in quarantine because of coronavirus," Veronika Láchová, director of the Czech Federation of Food Banks, told Práva.

Young families often got into trouble as well. "It often happens that a mother is on maternity leave and the father works in a restaurant. Suddenly, the family loses their only income," Láchová described. Food banks are reporting the crisis situation mostly in Central and Western Bohemia, South Bohemian and Ústí nad Labem.

"Our food bank currently lacks 10 tons of food each month. We mainly need basic staples like pasta, rice, legumes, flour and soups. Every gift will help the needy," the Ústí nad Labem Food Bank announced at the end of October.

Another collection on November 21

The nationwide food collection set for Nov 21 should help stock up reserves. The spring food collection, which was to create reserves in warehouses for the coming months, was cancelled due to the state of emergency back in March. The success of this current food drive will depend in part on what restrictions will be in place due to the pandemic.

"Currently, we are mainly dealing with how many volunteers can be involved to make it sustainable from a safety point of view. Despite the fact that we have prepared protective gear for 4,000 volunteers, we already know that there will not be enough and it may not even be possible to do it,” Láchová told Práva.

Altogether, an estimated 130,000 people will be fed in the Czech Republic from food banks this year. Donated food is supplied to more than 800 organizations, such as shelters, low-threshold clubs, Hope, and the Salvation Army.

What food banks provide:

  • Food banks are non-profit organizations. They collect food and distribute it to charities. From them, they get to the needy - for example, single people, the disabled, the homeless and people in need.
  • These banks receive food from chains, from food collections, from growers and producers, from individual donors and from the European food and material aid program.
  • About three quarters of the food has reached the end of its minimum shelf life, intended for fast consumption or is food with damaged packaging that would otherwise end up in the incinerator.
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