SEMO Food bank taking action to meet needs of area
SIKESTON — As the effects of COVID-19 continue to develop, the Southeast Missouri Food Bank is taking action to ensure they are meeting the hunger needs of their 16-county service area.
According to a release from the Southeast Missouri Food Bank, they are in close contact with Feeding America and preparing for any operational changes that may be needed.
“Our focus is on making sure we are handling food distributions in the best possible manner so that they do not contribute to the spread of the virus, particularly among older adults or those with comprised immune systems who are particularly vulnerable,” the release said.
Pantries have been encouraged to schedule appointments to limit the number of people congregating at a pantry site at one time or host “drive-through” distributions where possible. Other suggestions include increasing pantry hours and giving clients twice as much food so it lasts longer.
“We encourage only one representative from each family go to the pantry to pick up the food,” the release said.
At congregate feeding sites, staff is being encouraged to establish hand washing/hand sanitizer stations and provide boxes of tissues, increase the intensity of your cleaning schedule and use disinfectants on surfaces including door handles, railings and counters. “To-go boxes” and disposable flatware are also being encouraged when possible.
“People who need food are encouraged to visit our website or follow our Facebook page for announcements on schedule changes and announcements of special food distributions,” the release stated. “We realize it likely is only a matter of time before schools suspend classes, which means there may be a large group of children who are missing out on the free breakfasts and lunches they receive at school. These children likely are in homes that are food-insecure meaning parents face an additional burden in trying to feed their children.”
The food bank is also concerned about people in low-wage and other jobs that may be temporarily out of work because the restaurant, retail outlet and other business where they work has temporarily closed or reduced its hours. While many families have stocked up on food and other necessary supplies in the past week, many of the people the Southeast Missouri Food Bank serves don’t have resources to do that.
Another concern the Food Bank has is making sure there are enough volunteers to continue their mission to feed the hungry.
“Many of the volunteers in our 140 member pantries, soup kitchens and shelters are above age 60, putting them at-risk of coronavirus complications,” the statement said. “We are asking younger people – particularly college students – who have available time to consider volunteering at their local food pantry.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or helping to deliver food boxes to senior citizens, may contact the Food Bank at 573-471-1818 or email email@example.com. Please provide your name, age, place of residence, contact phone number, and hours of availability.
“While we may not know yet exactly what impact coronavirus will have in southeast Missouri, we do know it will take a financial toll,” the statement said. “As of right now the requests for food distributions are exceeding our capacity. One of the best ways to help is to make a donation to help us stretch our already limited resources to ensure we can keep our vulnerable populations fed.”
Donations can be made on the Food Bank website at semofoodbank.org.