York County Food Bank volunteers prepare for holiday rush

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
York County Food Bank volunteer Sue Markle of Shiloh moves boxes containing ham in a freezer at the facility Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Volunteers will be boxing holiday food on Saturday. Bill Kalina photo

The York County Food Bank is about to enter its busiest time of the year, and the added pressure to serve the community during a global pandemic doesn't help either, officials said.

During the months of November and December, volunteers will be working with school districts to prepare packaged holiday meals and ship off turkey dinners to families in need while also keeping up with weekly food drives, said Jennifer Brillhart, CEO and president of the York County Food Bank.

"We're at an ultimate high for food insecurity in York County, as well as throughout the country," Brillhart said. "We don't see that level of demand going down anytime soon. If anything, it'll only go up as we go into the colder months."

In addition to its typical programs hosted year-round, the York County Food Bank will be organizing an event with the school districts in York County to provide a holiday meal of a turkey and side dishes to families who decide to participate.

Boxes at the York County Food Bank, Thursday Nov. 12, 2020, will be packed by volunteers on Saturday. Bill Kalina photo

"Frozen turkeys are a big expense we're gearing up for," Brillhart said. "We're buying things in such large quantities."

This year, the York County Food Bank aims to donate 5,000 frozen turkeys to families during the month of December.

So far this month, the nonprofit has provided families with more than 2,000 turkeys. Last year, volunteers packaged about 2,500 turkeys in the same time period.

In addition to partnering with schools, the York County Food Bank will host virtual food drives throughout the month. 

Interested donors can "shop" in a virtual grocery store and provide a monetary donation based on items they want the York County Food Bank to purchase, Brillhart said.

Although the food bank has more than 100 volunteers dedicating time on a weekly basis, Brillhart said, it can be time-consuming for volunteers to sift through donations.

York County Food Bank warehouse coordinator Joe McQuerrey stands with holiday provisions at the bank facility Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The food will be boxed by a group of volunteers on Saturday. Bill Kalina photo

"It's a lot of work to sort through random donations," she said. "It's more economical to receive monetary donations. We're buying things by the truckloads."

Right now, the York County Food Bank is only accepting monetary donations, which can be submitted by visiting https://yorkfoodbank.org/.

Besides donations, Brillhart said, the organization is always in need of new hands to help package food.

With COVID-19 in mind, the York County Food Bank has adjusted its process for providing food to include boxing the items. 

Interested volunteers can sign up for shifts to help out by visiting https://yorkfoodbank.org/.

"Support of us especially during the November and December time frame is vitally important because the need is just so great," Brillhart said.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.