West Alabama Food Bank prepping for holiday rush

West Alabama Food Bank

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Ellie Byrd

Like plenty of stores and restaurants, the West Alabama Food Bank is beholden to potential supply chain issues. With the holidays coming up, consider helping the food bank and organizations like it that ensure those in need don’t go without at such an important time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a big impact on the nation’s economy, meaning many industries are struggling to get the items they need amid supply chain issues.

Many of Alabama’s 200-plus food banks are having issues getting in enough food for their clients, but the West Alabama Food Bank hasn’t had any issues so far, said Executive Director Jean Rykaczewski.

That’s because they’ve been preparing for shortages since the beginning of the pandemic so they can continue supplying food to the nine counties they serve.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not facing challenges. Shipping costs are much higher, and wait times have increased exponentially. Some deliveries were canceled, too, Rykaczewski said.

“We’re not seeing the same people we saw during the pandemic,” she said. “Now our concentration is seniors who are on fixed budgets because when grocery prices, gas, heating and really everything goes up, their fixed income really gets stretched thin.”

Some of those seniors are having trouble affording their medications, too, she said.

With the holiday season upon us, the food bank is already making tough decisions so they have enough supplies to meet their demands.

“We’re definitely anticipating a higher need at Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Rykaczewski said.

One way they’re saving money? Skipping the turkey.

“Turkey prices have skyrocketed, and we can feed more people with large chickens than with turkeys,” she said. “It was the better decision with the warehouse space we have and the freezer space we have.”

Speaking of freezers, Rykaczewski said they’ve been waiting on a new freezer since they ordered one in July. That’s also forcing them to cut back on frozen goods.

Beginning today, the food bank is working on pre-packing boxes for smaller organizations they supply food for around West Alabama.

Volunteers and donations are always welcome, especially around the holidays. You can learn more about how you can help out right here.

Categories: Archives, Local News