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Second Harvest Food Bank Grappling With Supply Chain Issues, Pandemic, Historic Demand

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- After more than a year and a half of adapting to the pandemic, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, one of the nation's largest food banks, is now getting squeezed by supply chain problems and inflation.

Food costs increased by 10% in October, according to Cat Cvengros, Second Harvest's Chief Philanthropy Officer. "We're also seeing costs like cardboard, and shipping go sky high."

The increased costs are significant, considering Second Harvest currently distributes 12 million pounds of food per month, feeding 450,000 people monthly.

Demand for food assistance rose sharply following the onset of the pandemic. Now 20 months later, it continues to be an all-time historic high, 80% above pre-pandemic levels.

"Most of our clients, they lost hours, and then they went through their savings. So we're gonna see a long time for them to recover," said Cvengros.

What's more, financial contributions are off-pace, but Cvengros remains optimistic.

"We're seeing a little softness right now in donations. I'm not too concerned because we're heading into the holiday season where we see a lot of activity there. We'll definitely keep you posted. But if you gave last year, trust me, we need your support this year," said Cvengros.

Sorting, packing and distributing food is primarily handled by the charity's volunteer force, which has also seen shortages and decreased activity throughout the pandemic. COVID concerns had kept two of the largest groups away: older volunteers company team building events. November and December shifts typically fill up quickly, but the need will continue well past the holidays.

On Tuesday, student volunteers from St. Francis High School in Mountain View worked in the sorting rooms to support families in need, as part of a social justice class.

"I do have a lot of opportunities. It's really important for me to help them, and to put myself in their shoes for a moment and try to understand their point of view," said Qumilla Byers, junior at St. Francis High School.

"I think it's easy to read about work that people are doing. But you gain an appreciation for it once you actually do it in person ,and understanding the labor that goes into serving others," said Lily Arangio, junior at St. Francis High School.

To make a financial contribution, or reserve a volunteer shift, go to

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