So Much Has Happened In One Week – An Update from Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Tina Postel
Demand has increased exponentially. Funds are needed right now to purchase food in bulk and for hiring temporary warehouse help.
So much has changed so rapidly that I wanted to give you an update from the front lines in the fight against food insecurity in our community.
- Demand: In one week, just since last Monday, 2,238 people have picked up a week’s worth of food from Loaves & Fishes pantries. 905 of those served were children and 145 were seniors. This is more than double the amount of people we serve in a one week period. The phones have not stopped ringing with neighbors who are finding themselves in desperate situations, many for the first time in their lives. To help with the increased volume of calls, we have set up extra volunteers to answer referral lines remotely from home. Each day, EVERY available pantry slot has been taken. To accommodate the extra demand, we have added three new mobile locations and several pantries have added extra days and hours. Two of our full size pantries have had to close due to volunteer availability and associated health risks but fortunately, we have been able to move the food pick ups to another location or have planned to bring a mobile unit there to meet the need.
- Emergency Food Boxes: To feed as many people as safely and efficiently as possible we will transition to providing 7 day pre-packed boxes where clients can “drive through” for no personal contact distribution.
- Volunteer Needs: We are actively packing emergency food boxes and sorting food donations in our warehouse and have added numerous 3 hour small group volunteer shifts, available 6 days a week. We are enforcing social distancing guidelines, frequent hand washing and frequent disinfecting/cleaning of high traffic areas. Loaves & Fishes staff and volunteers are also working alongside our hunger fighting partners at Second Harvest Food Bank to pack even more boxes.
- Food Delivery: We have been overjoyed by the incredible response to our call last week for volunteer delivery drivers should we need to call on them. However, In the few short days since, implementing a home delivery program has been superseded by the more immediate need of packing food boxes. Our priority focus, with a greatly diminished volunteer pool, is to pack as many of these 7-day emergency food boxes as humanly possible and get them out to each of our 20+ full size and mobile pantry locations for pick up. We have found that many of our nonprofit partners are actively making referrals to our pantries for their clients in need and then sending their own caseworkers/staff, etc to go pick up the food from the pantry on their client’s behalf and delivering it to their homes. For now, while a majority of pantries remain open and can manage a “drive through”/no personal contact distribution. the situation continues to be fluid but this could change as well.
Stay tuned and stay safe!
For more information, visit our website at www.loavesandfishes,org. As always, thank you for your support of Loaves & Fishes.
From one hunger fighter to another,
Loaves & Fishes