By HALEY YAMADA and ERIC NOLL, ABC News(NEW YORK) — With Thanksgiving just days away providing a stark reminder, the need for food has grown worse among Americans who are struggling to feed their families during the coronavirus pandemic.“About 40% of the people who are turning to us for help have never before relied upon the charitable food system,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger relief organization. “Unfortunately, the food crisis persists.”An October report from Feeding America said that the pandemic had created “the perfect storm” for food banks with a surge in demand but a decline in food donations, the availability of volunteers and other operational challenges.With no immediate end to the crisis in sight, innovative Americans began new charitable organizations aimed at combating the hunger spread rampant across the country. College student Aidan Riley, the founder of “FarmLink,” began the organization to connect farmers who’d been forced to discard spoiled food with food banks instead. On Monday, the organization said it plans to deliver a million Thanksgiving meals.In May, FarmLink helped Idaho potato farmer, Doug Hess, deliver his potatoes to food banks in California.“I’d like to thank FarmLink for helping me move 125,000 pounds of potatoes that otherwise would have gone to waste,” said Hess.
FarmLink said that they have since delivered more than 15 million pounds of food.The “East West Food Rescue,” a Northwest-based group that purchases surplus food from farmers and distributes it with people in-need, said that it plans to deliver 8,000 turkeys in time for Thanksgiving.Zsofia Pasztor, a member of East West Food Rescue said, “We keep America strong during this COVID-19 pandemic.”As COVID-19 continues to surge across the U.S., food is not the only thing needed during the upcoming weeks — but also care from frontline workers.Rine Uhm, co-founder of “Give Essential,” said that they’re working to make sure our frontline workers are taken care of while they take care of us.“We’ve been able to raise the equivalent of 1 million dollars in donations for essential workers for all 50 states,” said Uhm.A nurse in Chicago who received a care package from Give Essential said that she feels grateful.“I just wanted to say that this is such a wonderful blessing for me and my family,” she said.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.