As surge in need continues, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank reinforces volunteer recruiting

PITTSBURGH — April is National Volunteer Month, but for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the need is prevalent throughout the year.

When SNAP benefits tied to Covid-19 relief came to an end in March, the food bank saw a surge in demand. Jennifer Zgurich, director of Corporate and Community Giving, described it as a one-two punch for families: getting their SNAP payments cut in half, then having to stretch that money thin with the rise of inflation.

“Seeing folks crying because they never expected to be in this situation. They don’t know what to do and where to go,” Zgurich said. “The more volunteers we have, the better we can distribute the food, the more efficient we can be.”

Those 6,500 volunteers make up three parts every year, starting with The Market, the onsite food pantry that opened its doors in September, increasing the need for volunteers by 130 every week. People can also help at the Volunteer Engagement Center.

“People help to pack boxes and sort food from food drive donations and package produce in family-sized packages that go out in the community,” Zgurich said.

Finally, opportunities are needed at distributions, where volunteers put pre-packed boxes of food into the trunks of cars. People can also take advantage of walk-in distributions, which are set up like a farmer’s market, with each volunteer working to pay it forward in any way they can.

“As you talk to the volunteers who give their time here at the food bank, you’ll hear over and over again that they get out of the experience way more than they feel that they’re putting into it,” Zgurich said.

You can visit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s website for more information on volunteer opportunities at https://give.pittsburghfoodbank.org/.

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