Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus

Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus 1200 630 Harry Chapin Food Bank

Friday, May 29, 2020

Your food bank has been transitioning into a new normal. Our new normal involves long days and fast weeks! Our mantra has been that we are in a marathon and not a race. Slowly our new normal is proving that a marathon isn’t descriptive enough, but that we are in an Ironman race.

Our commitment to ensuring that no one has to go hungry has not wavered once. Our gratitude for how our community has come together to help us in the fight to end hunger couldn’t be deeper. Our pride in our team cannot be understated.

Our food procurement team have been spending thousands of dollars each day on food purchases. With each order, they skillfully negotiate the best prices for the food they buy. This shrewd team also manages the logistics of every delivery, and in this new normal, that is nearly a million pounds of food each week. We are so fortunate to have such a competent team sourcing food from every possible supplier. Their efforts afford our ability to increase our distributions.

Our program team consistently demonstrates adaptability and sheer determination. They work with our 150 partner agencies, helping them problem solve and modify their operations to best serve the community. This week, one of our partners had to close their doors due to two positive cases of COVID-19. Our program team immediately responded and worked with the surrounding partners to ensure their ability to handle an increased delivery of food so that the residents of that underserved area could still receive food. Our program team also ensures that programs for seniors operate successfully despite the pandemic. They work closely with our Care and Share partners to ensure that homebound seniors are not forgotten. Our program team has added another drive-thru distribution to our schedule increasing our distributions to 13 times a week. We are proud of how determined they are to meet the increased demand for food. If you need food, please click here.

Our operations team literally carry heavy loads – nearly a million pounds of food each week. The increased volume of food that we now transport makes our fleet of 17 trucks insufficient. We now rent four additional trucks. Subsequently, we have hired temporary drivers to our team. We utilize a sophisticated GPS system designed to optimize performance resulting in only a 20% increase in mileage due to the ever-growing complex logistics of picking up food and delivering to partner agencies and our drive-thru distributions. Additionally, our warehouse crews not only receive overwhelming amounts of food, but they also distribute staggering amounts of food. In fact, your food bank has had to purchase additional equipment to ease the handling of these loads. Our operations team is nothing short of heroic.

Our finance and development teams have done a stellar job in managing the finances of your food bank. Most of the members of these teams now work remotely from their homes and have developed the best work processes that remote access affords. They continue to finetune their systems and are humbled by the outpouring of support that continues. Just yesterday, a woman who went to our drive-thru distribution wrote to thank us for being the safety net of the community. She had never gotten food from the food bank before and felt so grateful that we have been in the community for the past 37 years. This is a role that we cannot play without the generosity of our community and we are grateful for our increased workload. To support our efforts, please click here.

Our volunteer department continues to benefit from hundreds of people in the community who are well, able, and willing to give their time. Just this week, we had a total of 408 volunteers who worked a total of 1316 hours (this was a four-day week due to the Memorial Day holiday). We are indebted to these change makers who have stepped forward to sort produce, pack food kits and help with the distributions. If you are well, able, and willing to give your time, please sign up here.

It is truly humbling to observe what is happening in our community. To see how connected we are, how committed we are, it’s no wonder Southwest Florida constantly ranks as a top place to live. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for being our partner.