The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been especially hard on food banks across North Texas.
“We’re seeing this huge downward trend in the number of people who are coming out to volunteer,” Tarrant Area Food Bank President and CEO Julie Butner said.
“Last quarter, our volunteer numbers were extremely low, they were about 6,800 and normally they would be closer to 12,000,” North Texas President and CEO Trisha Cunningham said. “Since Omicron has happened and after the holidays, we’ve seen a real serious decline in volunteers overall.”
The North Texas Food Bank is seeing around a 50% cancellation rate daily in expected volunteers.
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“So many of our volunteers are those corporate volunteers and they will sign up for a volunteer shift,” Cunningham said. “What happened with Omicron is many companies still encourage their employees to stay home and work if they could or they sent them back home to work if they could and so if they are going to send them home, they’re not going to organize these volunteer activities for their employees to come together.”
“With Omicron circulating, we just continue to have these volunteer shortages,” Butner said. “Corporations really haven’t come back at full speed. Especially the national corporations.”
Both Butner and Cunningham said they have protocol in place that still allow people to volunteer safely.
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“We especially need the support at our mobile distributions, which are outside where the spread would be significantly reduced,” Butner said.