Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus – March 20

Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus – March 20 1709 887 Harry Chapin Food Bank

As of Friday, March 20, 2020

With the unfortunate news that restaurants throughout the state of Florida must close their dining rooms and use their kitchens solely for takeout and delivery purposes, your food bank is acting quickly to rescue as much of the food that the restaurants are willing to donate. There are certain restrictions and requirements for the kinds of food that we can rescue but by and large, Harry Chapin Food Bank can include this unusual food source in our food distributions. If you are the owner or manager of a restaurant and you are willing to give your food bank any of your food inventory, please contact Ken Varner at 941.889.9914 or kvarner@harrychapinfoodbank.org.

As your food bank works diligently to secure more food, we are hearing loud and clear from our suppliers that due to the extraordinary demand in retail stores, their inventories are depleted. A large factor in this situation is hoard purchasing.

Under normal circumstances, most of the food your food bank distributes is donated to us from either food retailers, food producers and the general public. We purchase only a little food for specific programs, and it makes up 5% of our total food sources.

Shortages in retail stores have affected our operations. We are starting to experience significant reductions in donations from our normal food sourcing channels. This disruption is impacting our largest distribution program: our Partner Agency Program.

You can help us. Our suppliers have suggested that if consumers slowed down the amount of food that they are purchasing, retail stores would be able to donate food products to us. Your food bank shares in your concern for securing food for your family as we are trying to do the same for those who are hungry.

Our partner agencies are still open, although the number of closures has increased. We are proud of how creative many of our partners have become by changing their distribution models so that they maximize social distancing. We are doing our best to keep their hours of operation current on our website. Anyone planning to visit a partner agency pantry should call the agency prior to their arrival. Click here for a link to our partner agencies.

We are anticipating rolling out our next phase of distribution by the end of March. The core of our plan utilizes a drive-thru distribution model which we believe offers the best possible prevention of spreading the virus. At each drive-thru distribution, your food bank will distribute prepacked shelf-stable food kits and if possible, supplementing the kits with fresh products. We have identified possible distribution points throughout our five-county footprint. We will share those distribution sites as they become finalized.

Volunteers are at the heart of our operations. The time they give is an essential ingredient in our sound financial management. It is a challenge to protect them while meeting our tremendous demand for volunteers. Our volunteers are wearing gloves. They are not wearing masks, because the CDC recommends against it. No one who has been out of the country or is not feeling well is being allowed to volunteer. We have adjusted our volunteer schedule to stagger and limit the number of volunteers in our facilities. As volunteers arrive for a volunteer shift, we are inquiring of their health and about possible recent travels. We will not allow anyone who has been out of the country or not feeling well to volunteer. If you are well, able and willing to volunteer, please click here to sign up.

Now more than ever, we need your support.  If you feel led to contribute to support our efforts, please make a gift.

We are grateful for our ongoing partnerships and are reminded that only together we can continue to serve those who are hungry in our community.