Taylor Swift is a champion for food banks from coast to coast


New York
CNN

When the Arizona food bank network got a call that Taylor Swift wanted to make a huge donation to the charity while kicking off her ERAS tour in the state, some employees thought it was a joke.

But it wasn’t a joke. The superstar, who makes a lot of money from her blockbuster concerts, has been giving back to the communities in which she plays. From Georgia to Michigan to Texas to California and in between, food banks have benefited.

Swift’s donation in Arizona in March allowed the network to send multiple tractor-trailers filled with 40,000 pounds of fresh produce to its member food banks, said Terry Shoemaker, a spokesman for the nonprofit. In addition, it has boosted funding for programs aimed at fighting hunger, such as helping eligible children get free and reduced-price school meals and seniors get food stamps.

“Taylor Swift’s donation has definitely helped at a time when we see the need to climb and climb and climb,” Shoemaker told CNN.

Food banks across the country are grappling with increased demand, rising costs and tight supplies of donated food. Last year, about one in six people turned to hunger relief programs for support, according to Feeding America, a national network of food banks, pantries, and meal programs. Many food banks say the need has increased in 2023, spurred in part by the end of the nationwide pandemic gentrification of food stamps earlier this year.

Spokesman Mark Coleman said Seattle-based FoodLifeline, which received a donation from Swift when she played in the city in late July, will likely use the funds to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as foods popular in the ethnic communities.

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The nonprofit must now buy more of the groceries it distributes because the amount of donated food it receives has decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Coleman said this comes at a time when cash contributions have fallen to pre-pandemic levels.

But demand has skyrocketed. The charity now provides 280,000 meals a day and serves 1.1 million people. This is up from 125,000 meals and between 600,000 and 700,000 people served before the pandemic.

Food banks refused to disclose the size of Swift’s gifts. Her representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Not only do Swift’s donations help food banks buy more groceries, the charities say, but the publicity surrounding the gifts raises awareness of food insecurity in the United States.

Last month, the singer made a donation to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, which works with more than 400 partners to feed 500,000 people each month, before making a stop in Santa Clara, California. A string of other contributions followed next week, jumping 43% over the same period a year earlier, said Shobana Gopi, chief philanthropy officer at the Food Bank.

The Three Square Food Bank, which serves Las Vegas and southern Nevada, saw an uptick in both donations and interest in its mission following Swift’s endowment during the tour.

“It really helps to receive a gift from someone who, like Taylor Swift, has the potential to bring so much attention to our cause and the work we do,” said Beth Martino, CEO of the nonprofit group. Last year, it served nearly 36 million meals through its network of community partners.

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