Omicron wave leaves US food banks scrambling for volunteers

  • Volunteers Harris Springsteen, left, and Ana Willis, right, fill bags with food items for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Volunteer Julia Springsteen fills a bag with food items for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Food items wait to be packaged and distributed at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Warehouse staff member Billy Williams stacks boxes of grocery bags filled with food for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Warehouse staff member Billy Williams, left, and volunteers Darrell Cushman, Andrew Willis and Ana Willis (left to right) prepare bags of food for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Volunteer Ana Willis fills a bag with food items for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Volunteer Salok Samant carries boxes of canned food for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Volunteer Allison Willis, right, fills a bag with food items with other volunteers for the backpack program at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

  • Warehouse manager Marty Highbaugh moves a pallet of prepared food bags for the backpack at Feeding America food bank in Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

WASHINGTON — Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from their usual shifts, and companies and schools that regularly supply large groups of volunteers are canceling their participation over virus fears.