Megan Gawronski, Contributing ReporterSeptember 19, 2020Many public establishments have needed to endure drastic adjustments within the wake of the pandemic, and meals banks are not any exception. The Larger Cleveland Meals Bank, northeast Ohio’s largest meals bank, has been working onerous to rise to the problem introduced by COVID-19.
Previously seven months, the meals bank has had to deal with fewer volunteers and fewer entry to meals, all whereas making an attempt to serve a rising variety of individuals.
“The pandemic has really had a tremendous impact on our operation and how we distribute food,” Karen Pozna, the meals bank’s director of communications, commented. “We actually kicked into our disaster-planning mode last March … it was the first time that we ever really had to put [it] into action.”
As COVID-19 shut down faculties and senior packages, and volunteers stopped signing up for shifts, meals banks throughout the state turned to the federal authorities for assist. Members of the Nationwide Guard got here to assist pack and distribute meals, and the U.S. Division of Agriculture supplied meals when the provision chain confronted shortages. Concurrently, the variety of individuals in want grew. In line with Pozna, the meals bank has served over 37,000 new households from mid-March to Sept. 6, which is greater than twice the quantity of latest households served on the similar time final yr.
The meals bank has begun to combine common volunteers again into its operations and is making diligent efforts to comply with all mandatory security protocols. Thermal cameras on the constructing’s entrance verify the temperature of volunteers as they arrive, and common hand washing and sanitizing, masks carrying and social distancing are required. Volunteers who pack meals are required to put on gloves. Social distancing laws have restricted the variety of volunteers allowed within the constructing directly. Nevertheless, Pozna says that, “the volunteers that have been coming in [have] really been hard at work and cranking out projects.”
The meals bank has additionally transitioned from month-to-month to weekly meals distributions, and now distributes meals from the North Coast Municipal Parking Lot (broadly generally known as the Cleveland Muni Lot). Volunteers work at these drive-up meals distributions to verify individuals in, direct visitors and cargo meals into automobiles. These volunteers are additionally required to do temperature checks and put on a masks.
The meals bank has its hardworking directors and volunteers, in addition to the Cleveland group as a complete, to thank for serving to them by way of these tough occasions, some extent which Pozna emphasised. “The community’s response to the food bank and our efforts to respond to this pandemic have been truly impressive,” she stated. “The Greater Cleveland community is known for their generosity, and they’ve really stepped up over the past few months.”
Nevertheless, they nonetheless want all the assistance they’ll get from the group so as to proceed offering meals to a rising variety of households. In relation to donations, financial donations are finest, as they permit the meals bank to buy the meals they want probably the most. Nevertheless, donations of nonperishable meals gadgets are accepted, particularly soups, canned greens and meals comparable to macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and cereal are wanted. The meals bank additionally wants extra volunteers, because the variety of volunteers coming by way of faculty teams and firms has diminished as faculties and companies go digital.
To make a donation or signal as much as volunteer, go to their web site.