Federal assistance ending for local food banks

At the end of October, some federal assistance is ending for local food banks.

That's left many in Santa Clara County scrambling for dollars and volunteers. They're serving 3.3 million meals a week, double their pre-pandemic numbers. And they need help to meet demand.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley says they're facing a "food cliff": a huge drop in resources.

In a matter of weeks, food boxes from the federal government will stop coming and help from the National Guard will too.

"We could not have done this without their support. It's been incredible. But now with that support leaving we need more community members to step into their place," says Cat Cvengros of Second Harvest of Silicon Valley.

Demand at the food bank has doubled. But they have only half the volunteers they need.

"The concern right now is whether we'll be able to box enough food to meet the need," says Cvengros.

The City of San Jose has been trying to help.

During the pandemic, their Emergency Operations Center took responsibility for Santa Clara County's entire food distribution plan.

"It was nothing we had ever done before. We went from probably about 800 meals a week, to being accountable and jointly responsible for 3.3 million meals a week. It was that huge of a scale," says Dolan Beckel, director of the Emergency Operations Center Food and Necessities Distribution Branch.

And they found, some non profits had wait lists for food, for the first time ever.

To meet the need, the city has been thinking outside the box:

Distributing $35-million in grant money, not just to food banks, but to groups like Off the Grid as well.

The company, known for large gatherings of food trucks, has pivoted.

For the next three months, they'll deliver groceries and some prepared meals to those in need.

"We looked around and wanted to figure out how we could help the community," says Suresh Khanna of Off the Grid.

Off the Grid is just launching in San Jose this week.

Second Harvest has been around for years.

But they agree, the need is unprecedented.

"Because of the heightened need in the community we have need in all the aspects here in Second Harvest," says volunteer Steve Norris.

The fear is what happens when winter hits.

In a normal year, November, December and January are a food bank's peak months.

"So it's only going to get worse. And we're trying to brace for that. And that's why we need the help," says Cvengros.

Second Harvest will need help with packing boxes and loading them into cars. And they're looking for volunteers for all shifts.

San Jose plans to announce its next round of grant recipients in early November.