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Local Nonprofits Stressed by COVID But Didn't Break

An Inside Business article by Sandra Pennecke

The coronavirus pandemic has shown no mercy to the region’s nonprofit organizations, which have struggled for a year now to remain steadfast to their missions.

While intensifying the need for many of the organizations’ services it also significantly hampered their ability to deliver those services.

Inside Business checked in with several local nonprofits to learn about the state of their operations as the coronavirus crisis hit its one year mark.

Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore

At the start of the Foodbank’s COVID-19 response efforts, the cost of providing a meal increased from 40 cents to $3.50 almost overnight.

Thankfully, community members and supporters quickly raised their financial support to ensure the organization could continue its work — with minimum disruption — to feed individuals experiencing food insecurity.

Ruth Jones Nichols, president and chief executive officer of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, said the organization has experienced a year of rapid change, growth, innovation and increased collaboration.

It saw an increase in demand from people already experiencing hunger and an increase in need among people who never needed food assistance before, Jones Nichols said.

In response, the Foodbank found new tactics, like online ordering, home delivery and collaborations with traditional and non-traditional partners.

“As a result of a decline in food donations, we’ve also had to diversify how we source food for distribution, including increasing purchased food to ensure that all people have access to complete and healthy meals,” Jones Nichols said.

Jones Nichols said they have been amazed with how the community has come together to support them throughout the pandemic.

“Individuals, community groups, and businesses are donating more funds, food and time due to an acute awareness about the needs, and we hope this community support continues even as we move beyond this crisis,” she said.

The Foodbank has worked closely in the past year with its partner agencies and other organizations, including Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, Mercy Chefs, and the YMCA of South Hampton Roads.

And an overwhelming amount of support has come from the community through donations and volunteer support.