In just a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, shutting down any place where large groups of people would normally gather - including restaurants, concerts, performing arts, and fundraising events. For our local nonprofits, COVID-19 has forced dramatic change in order to continue serving the local community.
Loaves & Fishes is a network of emergency food pantries that has been serving a week’s worth of groceries to people in short-term crisis situations for 45 years. But, in their 45-years of operation, they’ve never faced something like this. Not only are they having to pivot the way they provide food to the community due to social distancing, but the need for their services is also even higher as unemployment is skyrocketing. In just three weeks, Loaves & Fishes has gone from serving 1,200 clients a week to over 3,500 this past week. Add to that, the fact that more and more people who have never before had to access their services are now finding themselves in need of help.
In order to keep clients and volunteers safe, Loaves & Fishes has had to do a 180 on their food distribution model. To meet the need, they suspended the pantry shopping and are now giving out emergency food boxes that contain a week’s supply of groceries. They’re shifting gears to accommodate the increase in people they need to feed.
In addition to the standard pantry locations, Loaves & Fishes added mobile sites to their offering. These mobile sites are located in the parking lots of local community centers, churches, and partner organizations, and allows them to pass out food boxes drive-thru style so that clients don’t have to get out of their cars. This model has proved to be very effective for them and they are increasing the number of mobile sites each week in order to provide food to as many people as possible.
What Can You Do to Help?
If you aren’t comfortable leaving the house to help, no worries! One of the best ways to support Loaves & Fishes is with monetary donations. Why? Well, each emergency food box requires certain types of foods to fill. While they appreciate the generosity of the community’s food donation, because of COVID-19, it’s easier for their staff to purchase the foods they need with monetary donations than sort through food donations.
While Loaves & Fishes is taking great efforts to provide food to those who need it during these tumultuous times, they aren’t exempt from the impact of the COVID-19. For example, their volunteer pool is diminishing, while the need is rapidly increasing. As more mobile sites are added, volunteers will be needed to help check clients in and load food boxes into their cars. If the volunteer calendar is full, don’t worry, more shifts are added every few days.
Food is a basic need and there are so many people that are wondering how they are going to feed themselves and their family. Consider supporting Loaves & Fishes in serving their neighbors in need through volunteering or donating. Additionally, follow this page to stay updated with Loaves & Fishes’ efforts and needs through this crisis.
ICYMI: The work Loaves & Fishes is doing to pivot the way they serve our community during this crisis was featured on WBTV this week. Check it out!
Thank you to the Amy and Brian France Foundation for presenting this year's #SpotlightOnCLT content series!