Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany

by Tafel Deutschland e.V.
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
Food Banks and Pantries: Covid Response in Germany
(c) Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images
(c) Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

Your support makes a difference

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tafel organization has faced its greatest challenge yet. Our volunteers have since developed new food distribution models to keep our services running as best as possible. Within a very short time, new strategies were devised that complied with the regulations and ensured the safety of everyone involved. Since then, Tafel’s work has become more difficult and costly, while some volunteers have temporarily stopped working for fear of infection. Some of the 950+ Tafel food banks in Germany have had to close for the time being.

A total of 13.2 million people in Germany are at risk of or already affected by poverty. Before the coronavirus crisis, 1.6 million people regularly visited a Tafel food bank. These people do not have enough healthy food. Many of them, especially older people, no longer come to Tafel for fear of infection. In addition, people who did not previously rely on external support are now in need of help. These include people who have lost their jobs, are in short-time working schemes, or whose work has dried up.

People who receive the ALG II unemployment benefit or income support for the elderly have been hit especially hard by the crisis: food prices are rising, free school and nursery meals are no longer provided, masks need to be purchased, and only a limited number of social services are still available during the pandemic.

In order to reach the people who are no longer coming to Tafel food banks because their risk of infection is too great or because projects have been canceled, Tafel has to invest more into its services. Food banks are setting up delivery services to bring food to service users’ doors.

Our volunteers are achieving incredible things. Some of them have temporarily stopped working to protect themselves, while others have signed up to volunteer at Tafel for the first time after spontaneously deciding to get involved.

Thanks to your donations, Tafel Grevenbroich could invest in safety

Thanks to many donations and special rates, Tafel Grevenbroich has been able to put extensive safety measures in place that enable the food bank to keep providing food to around 650 Tafel service users, even during the pandemic. Protective screens and temperature checks ensure the safety of both the volunteers and service users. Air purifiers will soon be installed in the premises to make food distribution even safer. “These measures have definitely contributed to the fact that we haven’t had a single infection reported among our service users or our staff,” reports director Wolfgang Norf. This Tafel food bank also distributes free everyday masks and hand sanitizer to its service users. Normally, there are 100 people working at Tafel Grevenbroich. As some of them belong to at-risk groups, they are staying at home. At the moment, there are 60 members of staff working extra hours to keep the food distribution services going.

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Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, over 400 of the 948 local Tafel food banks and pantries in Germany were forced to temporarily close their doors. It has been the greatest challenge the Tafel organization had faced since it was founded 27 years ago. Before the crisis, 1.6 million people regularly visited their local Tafel. For many people, it is far more than just a food pantry. It is a place to meet and socialize, a community space central to the lives of many of our beneficiaries.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tafel organization found itself facing many different challenges: to ensure the safety of both volunteers and service users, we had to devise and implement new strategies for distributing food. 90% of Tafel’s 60,000 active volunteers are older people and therefore considered to be in a vulnerable group, meaning that many Tafel food banks had a sudden lack of volunteers. In addition, the amount of food donations fell drastically in some regions as a result of panic buying. At the same time, the Tafel were trying to get their services up and running again as quickly as possible so they could continue supporting people in need.

Our volunteers have been working tirelessly, sometimes day and night on end, to find solutions. The support that Tafel received in the first few weeks and months after the coronavirus outbreak was therefore all the more urgent and all the more overwhelming. It is only thanks to this support that Tafel food banks and pantries were able to reorganize their services in such a short amount of time and develop food distribution strategies that adequately ensure the safety of everyone involved. Lots of young people signed up to volunteer at their local Tafel and got involved straight away.

Thanks to this rapid response, which is also partly a result of your support, Tafel food banks were able to:

  • Set up delivery services so that Tafel can continue to support people in need, particularly older people. To do this, some Tafel food banks had to purchase new vehicles,which led to an increase in fuel costs. Other Tafel food banks organized a bicycle delivery service.
  • Purchase bags, sunshades and canopy tents, enabling them to distribute food outdoors.
  • Implement new hygiene measures on site. Some Tafel food banks had to move to new premises as it was not possible to observe social distancing measures in their old buildings.
  • Purchase protective screens, hand sanitizer, masks and other protective equipment.
  • Cover their ongoing costs, e.g. rent and utilities.

The winter will bring new challenges for the Tafel. For example, we will need to adapt our operations to ensure we can keep distributing food regardless of the weather. We will also need to expand our delivery services so that we can respond quickly to the new lockdown measures.

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Organization Information

Tafel Deutschland e.V.

Location: Berlin - Germany
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @tafel_de
Project Leader:
Hester Wonschick
Berlin, Germany
$7,284 raised of $1,000,000 goal
60 donations
$992,716 to go
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