While all of us are adjusting to new norms, food banks have hit the trifecta of woes.
First of all, more people are in need of assistance because of lost jobs. Tricia Cunningham, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, said last week that the need “grew exponentially almost overnight.”
Second, thanks to social-distancing measures, they’ve been forced to reconsider exactly how they distribute food.
Finally, because of shelter-in-place orders and the contagious nature of the virus that causes COVID-19, the use of volunteers is suddenly very complicated.
One of the first measures the NTFB implemented to allow for more social distancing when dispensing food was to require their partner agencies to create drive-thrus. So, instead of allowing clients to come into a facility to shop, they need to stay in their cars, and a presorted box of food will be brought to them.
Seems simple enough, right? Not really. Consider if your local grocery store had to reorganize from aisles of sorted food to more than 20,000 boxes filled with a variety of food to make many nutritious meals.
Considering just the scale of their operations — last year the NTFB distributed an average of 200,000 meals a day — this was no easy transition. But a couple of major changes happened last week that set the stage for things to fall in line.
Sixty Five Hundred, a 25,000-square-foot event venue near Love Field, offered their now unusable gathering space to the NTFB as a temporary warehouse to store and sort food.
The NTFB also partnered with Get Shift Done to provide employment to those in the hospitality and service industry. Funding is through donations to Get Shift Done for North Texas at the Communities Foundation of Texas.
So the food bank is now employing those who lost a job because of COVID-19 to sort food and create food boxes for clients at the Sixty Five Hundred facility. With this new setup, the NTFB should be able to create 24,000 boxes of food for families each week.
How You Can Help
As for the general public and how we can all help while sheltering in place, well, simply put, they need your dollars. One dollar in the hands of the NTFB is equivalent to three meals. They have mighty purchasing power.
“Because we have to focus on these boxes, we are spending significantly more,” says Anna Kurian with the NTFB. “This is due to an increased demand and relying on purchased food.”
To donate, visit NTFB.org/give.
If you’d rather donate goods, they need presorted items.
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“For the public who is looking to donate food,” Kurian says, “we are asking for ‘focused food drives,’ which means collecting a single item or presorting the food.”
Specifically, items they need right now are canned protein, cereal bars, fruit in juice and peanut butter.
The NTFB also has a wish list on Amazon.
If you’re looking for opportunities to replace lost income, you can visit NTFB.org/Shiftsmart and download the app.