Community Harvest Food Bank adapting distribution amid COVID-19 concerns

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Community Harvest Food Bank is changing the way they distribute food to slow any potential coronavirus spread.

With the schools closing and some people having to stay home from work, Community Harvest Food Bank is expecting more people to need their services. To minimize any potential COVID-19 spread before it starts, they are how adjusting how people pick up their food each week.

Beginning March 14, Community Harvest had their Helping Hands clients collect food outside of their building in order to avoid any crowding indoors. They had their SeniorPak walk-in clients pick their food up in a drive-thru style but next weekend they will start taking the food to their seniors’ cars in an effort to use social distancing to slow any potential COVID-19 spread. As for the people referred to their grocery store, the Community Cupboard, their shopping experience will look different as well.

“Starting Monday, we’re only going to have one to two people in at a time and we will provide them with gloves,” said Carmen Cumberland, Exec. President for Community Harvest. “Starting next Saturday, Community Cupboard will still be open Monday through Friday but Saturday it will be closed.”

Because fewer people will be allowed to shop alongside each other, their browsing time will be limited to 15 minutes.

The food bank plans to continue their student backpack program but Cumberland said how they run the operation during COVID-19 concerns is an ever-evolving situation.

“One thing we also have here is our backpack program where we provide food to kids on the weekend, so that model may change also depending on what’s going on,” said Cumberland.

Because students are not going to be in school for a few weeks and some families may be working less as a result, Community Harvest will be limit families to a 50 pound maximum in the Community Cupboard in an effort to stay stocked through increasing demand.

They still are accepting donations, but ask people to give money rather than food.

“People like to donate food and stuff, which is great, but again if you look at the overall picture the less people that touch the food the better,” said Cumberland.

Because information and recommendations around Covid-19 are coming rapidly, all of these alterations are subject to change as well. Cumberland said they will keep their website update every time they switch gears.

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