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Largest local food bank in need of volunteer support amid recent shortage due to Omicron variant surge

A representative for Feeding America Riverside San Bernardino said any type of support 'truly makes a difference.'

Feeding America Riverside San Bernardino is facing a critical shortage of volunteers due to the recent Omicron variant surge.

Feeding America Riverside San Bernardino (FARSB) is seeking new volunteers after a recent coronavirus variant surge ran away the majority of its essential help.

In a press release Tuesday the food bank confirmed that volunteers had abandoned their schedules out of fear of contracting the virus. However, without active volunteers FARSB cannot feed its most food-insecure recipients.

“Every act of kindness, whether that’s volunteer or monetary support, truly makes a difference during these unusual times,” said Carolyn Solar, FARSB’s philanthropy director.

The widespread desertion has already caused a strain on the food bank’s regional operations. Solar said the organization first responded to the issue by cutting in half the number of volunteers appointed to any given shift to 10 people.

But the numbers of volunteers arriving to help continue to dwindle.

“In recent weeks, we’ve had numerous days where only two people have shown up to their shift,” Solar said.

On top of the volunteer shortage, FARSB, the largest food bank for Riverside and San Bernardino counties, has struggled financially due to spikes in inflation prices. According to the press release, its Riverside warehouse lease saw a $15,000 per month increase.

Solar said the alarming hike ultimately affects the food bank’s ability to serve disadvantaged families across the community.

Despite recent setbacks, FARSB continues to receive millions of food donations from its distribution center partners. With the support it prevents food insecurity to more than 1.2 million residents in the Inland Empire and is the main source of food to over 200 local nonprofits.

In following CDC guidelines, all volunteers must practice social distancing and adhere to current mask mandates.