441    Hello, this is FOOD INDEPENDENCE. How can we help you?

441 is not a new emergency number. It is how many boxes of food we distributed on April 25 to 966 of our neighbors, family, and friends in 396 households (59 new households!) with 249 children under 18 years old. Our old record was 371 boxes (last month) in the post “SNAP covid supplement” world. This month set a new record by almost 20%. Oh, March and April are usually less busy months for pantries.

We expected a crowd and packed 404 boxes but hustled to fill 37 more during distribution. Our volunteers dealt with the crowd, packed more boxes and smiled, as usual. Feeding SWVA Senior Staff were visiting during distribution to test new software and commented over and over that our vols just knew what to do and adjusted to the record crowd “seamlessly”.

Our volunteers are always amazing! Seamless? – only if you don’t know what vol panic looks like! But they did it. We think (hope!) we are near a ceiling for our rural community. Large scale donations of shelf stable food to Feeding SWVA are down so we must purchase at “low retail”, when it is available. We will find enough food for May and future months but, given recent growth, we may need an emergency number that we can call if demand keeps growing!

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