LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — During a typical holiday season, places like the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York would be bustling with volunteers packing up donations of food for those in need. But 2020 is not a typical year.

Liz Gifford, the food bank’s director of volunteer services, says that while donations have been steadily coming in, volunteers have not and the pandemic has created a shortfall in helpers. She says sometimes those who do sign up might have to cancel at the last minute citing health concerns.

“You know, ‘I was traveling and as part of the travel ban, and I can’t come in.’ Or, ‘I could have possibly been exposed to COVID at work.’ Our volunteers have been very good about letting us know about that type of thing, but we have been facing a lot of cancelations due to that,” said Gifford.

There are also strict social distancing guidelines. The number of volunteers is capped at 10 people per area.

But while the number of volunteers is down, food insecurity is up. Gifford says the need for help has gone up 50% from this time last year.

It’s one reason why Mike Calaban, of Delmar, told NEWS10 ABC that he is volunteering.

“Cause it’s a good cause. It helps feed people who need food. A lot of people don’t have a lot of money and need help,” said Calaban.

If you are interested in volunteering, Gifford says they want to reassure potential helpers that they are taking every precaution to keep everyone healthy and safe.

She added, “And if you come in and you feel at all uncomfortable, we can make accommodations. We appreciate every single one of our volunteers, and we could not do that without them.”

Here’s the link to sign up: You can also email: