By Ben Olson
One of the biggest struggles right now during the coronavirus pandemic is making sure those in need continue to have those needs met. The Bonner Community Food Center is working overtime to make sure their regular clients have uninterrupted access to food in this time of crisis.
Executive Director Debbie Love said the Food Bank has had to modify its food distribution a bit to help meet health guidelines issued by the CDC.
“We’ve suspended market shopping and are creating monthly food boxes now,” Love said. “We’re serving those on the outside of our building, since we’re not allowing the public inside.”
The undertaking is an enormous one. Food Bank staff and volunteers are tasked with taking all the food off the shelf and categorizing it into monthly food boxes to make sure everyone has the staples they need for home. Also, the Food Bank receives “grocery store rescues” which are perishable items picked up from stores every morning that are taken off the sales floor.
“We’re letting clients come weekly for those items, which include dairy products, eggs, bakery items and produce,” Love said. “So they can get monthly food boxes and pick up perishable items weekly now.”
The monthly food boxes include mostly canned items that are shelf stable, such as canned foods, vegetables, pastas and sauces.
The Food Bank serves over 500 seniors, Love said, which means they are seeking volunteers to help deliver the food boxes to their doorsteps. Anyone interested in helping can contact the Food Bank at 208-263-3663 or email [email protected]
“Our hours for clients are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., but we are here Mondays and Fridays packing boxes for the week,” Love said. “We’re looking for volunteers to help with that as well.”
Love said the Food Bank has seen an increase in those seeking food assistance – a sign that the coronavirus pandemic has reached every corner of the community.
“Another thing is, with restaurants moving to take out, we’ve had quite a few servers coming in needing services,” Love said. “That’s when I knew it was hitting home here, when your favorite server walks through the door.”
Love said the Food Bank takes protective measures to ensure groceries from local stores – which she said have been very supportive of the Food Bank – are safe to distribute to their clients.
“All our volunteers have gloves, masks and safety glasses,” she said. “The practice we are telling our volunteers and seniors in their homes is to leave the box on their doorsteps to ensure we’re practicing physical social distancing.”
Love said she’s been heartened at seeing how many people have come forward to help during this time of crisis.
“We’ve had an outpouring of help from the community,” she said. “People are stepping up, as we knew they would.”
Call the Food Bank for more information: 208-263-3663.
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