Actions Taken Since March 16, 2020
- Provided 120% more food to 235 of its school BackPack Programs and including meat, juice, eggs, and milk for sites that can safely store and distribute perishables
- Provided 314,846 pounds of food (262,400 meals) to 6,600 seniors living in senior housing sites
- Shipped 2,654,913 pounds of food (2,212,400 meals) for special distributions in Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Fulton, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren, and Washington Counties, and other hard hit communities to meet the needs of thousands of people, many of whom are quarantined or unemployed and in need of food assistance for the first time
- Provided 17.84 million pounds of food (14.9 million meals) through daily distributions to partner agencies to help them serve the growing number of people seeking assistance, a 55% increase over the same time period last year
- Provided 41,123 pounds of food (34,300 meals) for restaurant/hospitality workers who have been especially hard hit by mandated business closings
- Opened a second warehouse to safety host volunteers to sort donations and maintain social distancing protocols
- Hired eight temporary warehouse staff to cover for employees who need to care for children home from school (with four openings remaining)
The Plan Going Forward
- Maintain all regular food receiving and distribution operations
- Continue to provide special distributions of food in areas where food pantries are closing
- Provide additional distributions at the request of local communities where the need is rising due to people being out of work
- Find new partners to continue special distributions in areas where current hosts are cancelling
- Provide extra food to food pantries, soup kitchens, and other prepared meal programs to help them meet increased requests for assistance
- Continue to provide additional food to the Food Bank’s school partners that operate BackPack Programs to ensure kids have enough food on weekends
- Expand outreach and distribution to seniors in need
- Safely host volunteers in a new off-site warehouse
- Continue to respond to new needs and requests as they arise
Update 4/18/20: Volunteers continue to play important roles in the Regional Food Bank’s work and ability to respond to increased requests for assistance as a result of COVID-19. The Food Bank is still hosting volunteers to sort and box donations and has taken precautions to help ensure staff and volunteers stay safe during their shifts.
These precautions include:
- Having staff wear masks – VOLUNTEERS SHOULD BRING THEIR OWN FACE MASKS
- Messaging volunteers about not coming in if they are not well, have a fever, or have recently travelled
- Insisting volunteers age 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems, and those with underlying illnesses NOT volunteer to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Matilda’s Law
- Reducing the number of people per shift
- Setting up volunteer work spaces to allow for 6-feet between people
- Having volunteers sanitize and glove their hands when entering the building
- Stationing gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes in volunteer areas for frequent use
- Sanitizing high-touch points every two hours and at the end of each shift, including scales and touch-pads, tables, clipboards, pens, markers, sign-in consoles, door handles, broom handles, tape guns, and box cutters
People with questions can call our Volunteer Coordinators at 518-786-3691.
Update 3/16/20: Many school districts are continuing the provision of the national school breakfast and school lunch program, along with delivery for those lacking transportation. Please refer to your district website or Facebook page for updates. We are continuing to work with school districts through our BackPack Program and will, whenever possible, provide expanded bags to families. We understand that families will be facing unusual financial difficulties as a result of this and our network of food pantries is there to assist with accessing food. Those in need can find a local food pantry, along with contact information and days and hours of operation, by accessing the Find Food feature on our website.
As a member of Feeding America, the national network of 200 food banks, the Regional Food bank is in close communication with this network, sharing contingency plans and best practices. In a recent statement regarding its COVID-19 planning, Feeding America emphasized it is “…actively consulting with FEMA, National VOAD (National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), the USDA and leveraging other partners who are in a position to support measures to ensure access to food for the most vulnerable members of our communities during this situation.”
For Our Volunteers
We value you, our volunteers. Your work is critical in getting healthy food out to vulnerable populations, and your wellbeing is important to us. If you feel sick, please stay home to reduce the risk of spreading illness. At this time, we are maintaining reduced-size volunteer shifts. If cancellations prove to be necessary, we will communicate this information with you as soon as possible via email or phone calls. If you need to cancel a volunteer shift, please contact our Volunteer Coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Our Member Agencies
Food pantries and soup kitchens may find this suggestion helpful so they can continue to serve people in need of food: Consider having sick people, or those who are worried about becoming sick, ring the doorbell or call ahead instead of coming in. Agencies can then leave the food pantry package or takeout container of food for them at the door.
It is important to stay calm and make the right decisions and know there are definite steps you can take to protect yourself and others.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating, after coughing/sneezing, and after using the restroom. If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol may be used if not preparing food for others.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Keep 3 feet away from anyone sneezing or coughing.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow; if not, wash hands immediately.
- Instead of shaking hands when meeting people, try the new “elbow bump.”
- If you have come into contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, frequently disinfect all hard surfaces with a solution of 1/3 cup regular chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of lukewarm water. (DO NOT use scented, low-splash or splash-less bleach.)
- Masks are not effective in protecting you from the virus, and should not be used by healthy individuals.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. It is especially dangerous to those who have underlying health issues.
- If you are sick, STAY HOME.
Get up to date information and recommendations from reputable sources such as Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at www.who.int or New York State Department of Health at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/.