As many of you are aware, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been rapidly affecting the United States. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person with symptoms including cough, fever and shortness of breath. These symptoms can show up within one to 14 days of exposure to the virus; if one begins to develop symptoms or comes in contact with someone with the virus, they are being asked to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Since there is no coronavirus vaccine yet, prevention of spreading the virus includes frequent hand washing, coughing into the bend of your elbow and staying at home if possible.
In response, some of our agencies have closed due to the safety of their volunteers. Seniors operate a majority of our agencies and are the most at-risk age group of potentially catching the virus. In order to fill the void of those who depend on those agencies, we have created special food distributions in those areas.
Additionally, a stay at home order was issued and many businesses have closed, resulting in furloughs. We are responding to the increased number of hungry in our community as many families are experiencing temporary unemployment resulting in a loss of income. We have created special distributions to help those in need during this time that have previously never needed our assistance but are now faced with food insecurity.
It is important to note as well that because the Stay at Home order resulted in a high number of people stockpiling food, we have seen community donations of food drop dramatically. Purchases at grocery stores are increasing significantly resulting in fewer items on shelves reaching their Best Use By dates and getting donated to the Food Bank through our Retail Store Program. We are having to turn to our food vendors, which in normal times, are able to donate food for the cost of transportation. Because of the lack of food on the store shelves, their supplies are also stretched and there are no donations forthcoming. Donations of funds are vital now as we are having to purchase these truckloads of food to ensure that people in need don’t go hungry.
Donations can be made online through our website to help support our mission of feeding the hungry during this evolving situation. We are also still accepting volunteers as we follow guidelines provided by the CDC, local and state health agencies. Please visit brfoodbank.org for more information.