Adjusting Our Operations to Meet the Need – COVID-19 Week 3 Update from Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Tina Postel
Dear Loaves & Fishes Friends,
I hope this latest update finds you all safe and sound. As COVID-19 spreads through our county and nation, we are continuing to adjust our operations to manage the overwhelming demand for food in our community – all while keeping our clients, volunteers and staff as safe as possible. A few of these changes include:
PANTRY UPDATES: This past week, we successfully piloted several mobile pantry “drive-throughs” in addition to our regular Loaves & Fishes pantry locations.
This allows us to serve hundreds of additional referred clients safely with little to no personal contact. In light of this, we are coordinating plans to temporarily close a majority of our “brick and mortar” full size pantry locations beginning the week of April 6th. We are working with our Loaves & Fishes pantry coordinators and volunteers to focus on the operation of several of these large 90-minute mobile pantries in the parking lots of many of our regular pantry locations. These mobile pantries will allow us to serve three to four times more people in a shorter time frame while keeping our volunteers, staff and clients as safe as possible.
We look forward to the day we can welcome clients lovingly back into our buildings to shop for the foods they most enjoy once the threat of this pandemic is over.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION/WAREHOUSE UPDATES: We continue to pack a 7 day supply of emergency food boxes as quickly and as safely as we can with a packing station in our warehouse that allows for better social distancing between people. To help with this new increased packing need, we have hired some temporary staff to pack boxes in multiple small group shifts every day. Fortunately, we received some emergency funding from the Foundation for the Carolinas/United Way COVID-19 Response Fund to help cover some of this expense. The funding announcement and our hard work were recently highlighted here: Charlotte Business Journal.
While we are still utilizing small volunteer groups to assist with the sorting of food, we could potentially have ALL of our current food drive inventory sorted in just a few days. We are working diligently with our friends at Second Harvest Food Bank as well as food brokers around the region to secure more mass quantities of food that we will need in the weeks and months to come. We are actively seeking monetary donations to help offset these critical food purchases.
ADMIN/REFERRAL PHONE CENTER UPDATES: As you can imagine, our phones ring continuously from clients, caseworkers, guidance counselors and other partner agencies trying to connect people to food. Thanks to technology, 30 of our Phone Center Volunteers are now answering phones lines remotely from the safety of their own homes. Also, several members of our administrative staff are working from home in order to avoid unnecessary exposure. We certainly miss seeing everyone’s smiling faces around our office but we are grateful that so many are still dedicated to our cause…..just now at a safe distance.
As you can see, change seems to be the one constant we can count on. Change and the singular determination of our staff, volunteers and YOU, our generous supporters, to do whatever it takes to feed as many of our neighbors who need us that as we possibly can.
Please stay safe my friends and take good care of yourselves. Our neighbors in need are counting on us and I will need each and every one of you long after this virus is gone. As always, thank you for your support of Loaves & Fishes.
From one hunger fighter to another,
Executive Director, Loaves & Fishes
For more information about Loaves & Fishes, visit our website www.loavesandfishes.org