It seemed like it was almost an overnight development, we started to see a sharp increase in the lines at typical distributions at the Food Bank. Program employees and our partner agencies are reporting new people, that haven’t needed help before, suddenly out of work. Their jobs are mostly on-hold because of the sudden closures, meant to keep us all safe. Overall, during the past week an increase of around 30% was experienced at most sites. Some a little more and some less but all of it was noticeable and shockingly fast. We expect, depending on how long businesses are closed, the numbers will continue to rise.
Tensions are high. Families who face food insecurity face uncertainty in their lives every day, but with the threat of the coronavirus and supplies being more scarce than usual, it adds to this overall tension. The way we do things needed to change, quite suddenly. The process of congregating and lining up was no longer safe and certainly a difficult model to keep an acceptable social distance with hundreds of people. The concern for the safety of the families we serve, volunteers and staff is also very important to all of us and in the forefront of all of the decisions.
Because of all of these factors, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada is converting as many of their distributions as possible to a drive through model. These changes are to enforce social distance and limit congregation whenever possible. The Food Bank realizes that some families facing food insecurity will not have access to a vehicle for a distribution and when they are serving those who are walking up, strict social distancing guidelines will be required and enforced.
Additional changes in the coming weeks will include longer distribution times to allow for the drive through model and there will be less distributions throughout the month. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada will also be distributing emergency food boxes or bags at most sites to aid in the speed of distribution, the numbers they are able to serve, and to limit the amount of people who are handling the food.
Our community is an amazing one. We are hearing from so many who want to help and we appreciate these offers so very much. Volunteers are coming to the warehouse and our distributions to help us keep operating. They are wearing gloves and keeping a healthy social distance, while really making amazing things happen for us and for the families we serve. If you would like to help us with food, please donate online at fbnn.org. Every $1 helps us to provide three meals and is the most efficient way to help right now.
The Food Bank of Northern Nevada is working closely with community partners to ensure that children, their families, and other neighbors in need of food assistance are able to access the resources they need during this uncertain time. If people are in need of help during this difficult time, they are encouraged visit the Get Help section of FBNN.org to find the distributions closest to them or to call the Food Bank at 775-331-3663.
The Food Bank is asking for help from the community to keep these distributions as safe as possible. All who attend are asked to follow these precautions.
The Food Bank is grateful to the many community members and businesses who have already reached out seeking ways they can support continued food distributions.
To ensure the highest food safety standards for our community, the Food Bank is seeking monetary donations to purchase the most needed items and is not encouraging community food drives. Community members who would like to give are encouraged to visit FBNN.org to make a donation or to host a virtual food drive on behalf of the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. Virtual Food Drives can be established by submitting the Food Drive Request form at fbnn.org/fooddrive.
Volunteers are still needed at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada distribution center to assist with sorting and packing food to continue to meet the demand of the community. Community members who are feeling well and would like to participate are encouraged to view the volunteer schedule at fbnn.org/volunteer. Steps are being taken to protect the safety of the volunteers, including working in small groups to limit the number of people interacting with one another, wearing gloves at all times, and frequent handwashing and sanitizing of surfaces.
Thank you so much to our amazing community for helping us to make this all happen.