Alameda County food bank partners with Amazon to deliver to coronavirus patients in need

The Alameda County Community Food Bank announced a partnership Friday with Amazon to deliver food to county residents who have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and cannot get their own groceries. 

Through the partnership, Amazon is providing its Amazon Flex driver network to make contactless deliveries of healthy food from the food bank. The food bank and Amazon are now delivering to some 400 households since launching at the beginning of June. 

The food bank is now providing more than one million pounds of food per week to county residents due to the pandemic, which has caused a spike in food insecurity.  

According to the food bank, an estimated one million people in Alameda County are seeking food assistance, roughly double the demand the food bank was serving prior to the pandemic. 

"Our emergency food help line call volume went up ten-fold from before (the pandemic)," food bank spokesman Michael Altfest said. "We were doing 25-30 calls a day. Within about 10 days of the pandemic starting, it was like 250 to 300 calls." 

Altfest said the food bank is keeping up with the increased demand from food insecure households but it has resulted in the organization spending vastly more than it did in years past. 

"In April, May, June 2019 combined, we spent about $700,000 on food," he said. "In that same time frame this year, we spent $2 million." 

The partnership has allowed Amazon Flex drivers to deliver some 90,000 pounds of food since June began. The food bank is also partnered with other local organizations tackling food insecurity and expects demand to remain high for the foreseeable future. 

"The food bank that we are today is vastly different than the food bank we were on March 12," Altfest said. "But now that we've settled into our new normal, so to speak, we're very much looking long-term."