The View from Inside Food for Others during COVID-19

It’s 8:15 on Tuesday morning and Food for Others staff are starting to arrive and gear up for the day. Like everyone else, we’re wondering if the day will unfold how we expect or if everything will change like has been happening so often over the past few days.

This place definitely doesn’t look like it did two weeks ago.  Grocery stores don’t have much surplus to donate, so there are no stacks of bread, sandwiches, pastries, and random potted plants like usual. In their place are prepackaged boxes that families are collecting from the loading dock.

We’ve simplified our check in process and are only collecting a few pieces of information from people coming to get food. All information is exchanged verbally with front desk staff from several feet away, and everyone waits outside instead of in the waiting room.  There are a lot more kids coming with their parents now.

Many of our regular volunteers fall into the categories most likely to have a bad outcome from COVID-19 and have wisely decided to stay home.  In the meantime, our number of households served has increased from an average of 60 per day to over 140.  Yesterday we served 45 new families. Already we’re hearing reports of furloughed workers whose income has dropped to zero.

Our remaining volunteers and staff are scurrying around filling in outside of their normal areas, packing boxes, checking in clients, translating for Spanish speakers. We’re recruiting our college age and older teenage friends and family members to pitch in.

Overall the mood is focused but quiet. There are no corporate or church groups buzzing around bringing their energy and matching t-shirts to liven us up. Our individual volunteers are spaced out in five stations around the warehouse to minimize contact with each other. We’re working hard to serve people as quickly as possible so that not too many congregate at one time.

We’re still delivering food to our neighborhood distribution sites that are outdoors though that could change if we get too low on food. We have some bulk food orders arriving this week, but are finding it harder to locate everything we need.

In the midst of all this, there has been so much support from the community. People are donating online, dropping off food and money, and calling us to see how they can help.   We are so grateful for your continued support. We plan to keep serving our neighbors in need as long we can do so safely and have the resources we need.

Stay well, everyone.