ONTARIO — Even food banks aren’t immune to social distancing, as brought about by the fight against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus); The Next Chapter Food Pantry is making temporary changes to its system of food distribution, according to Pantry Director Nora Bean.
Bean explained these temporary measures to the Argus via email on Mar. 17.
“We are in the process of putting together a pre-boxed drive up food distribution system,” said Bean. “We normally have a grocery store system where clients are able to choose their food. With our temporary system, all product will be pre-boxed. Clients will be asked to park in a line facing North on SW 5th St in front of our St Matthew’s pantry site. Volunteers will come to the first car in line, asked your name, if you are an Oregon resident and how many people are in your household. Clients will be asked to stay in their cars. A volunteer, using food handlers gloves, will place product into clients cars for the client.”
Further, Bean said a ’no loitering’ policy is in place to encourage social distancing during the COVID outbreak.
“Clients will not be allowed to congregate on the premises. We will be asking clients and volunteers to stay six feet away from volunteers and other clients as much as possible. There will be NO sitting area for clients. NO waiting outside vehicles. To insure the safety of our clients and volunteers, anyone standing or sitting on the property more than 30 minutes before [the] shift begins will be ask to leave and come back no sooner than 30 minutes before [the] shift begins.”
That said, you don’t necessarily have to have a car to get needed supplies.
“For our clients who are on foot, an outdoor station will be set up with two tables separating the clients from the volunteers,” said Bean. “Product will be placed on the table by the volunteer and then the client will be allowed to retrieve food from the table. Volunteers will also ask our on foot clients name, if they are an Oregon resident and how many people are in their household.”
Volunteers spent the early part of the week making these changes to the pantry’s St. Matthew’s site on S.W. Fifth Street, for a reopening Thursday, Mar. 19 from noon to 3 p.m. The First Christian site is closed until further notice.
“If everything runs smoothly, our doors will continue to be open for our regular Tuesday shift, 4 to 6 p.m., and Thursday shift, noon to 3 p.m., beginning next Tuesday, March 24.”