Food bank will quarantine food before distributing it

Photo courtesy: MGN/USAF.  Generic food pantry image.
Photo courtesy: MGN/USAF. Generic food pantry image.(KKTV)
Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 3:44 PM CDT
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Food drives require people to work closely together sorting food.

For weeks the pandemic put a stop to food drives, but finally, new

guidelines allow them to once again be held, however, donated food will be handled more carefully and a lot later.

“That food is going to be quarantined for 14 days to make sure that if anybody that has come in contact with COVID-19 has come in contact with the food that it will have a chance to dissipate before we actually pass that on to the next person,” says Wiregrass Area Food Bank assistant director Julie Gonzalez.

Food donations will be sorted by staff wearing gloves and then put in pallet racking.

“It’s kind of like Santa Claus. Do not open until Christmas. We’re going to put that food up and not open it again until we can actually use it,” says Gonzalez.

A step designed to make sure they are helping without hurting.

“The last thing that we want to do is take somebody who is already being challenged by economic hardship and make them sick,” says Gonzalez.

Not only are food drives allowed. They are needed.

“We encourage people in the public if you’d like to do a food drive, now is a good time. We are low in canned goods. They are hard to find so if you have them to spare please share,” says Gonzalez.

With schools out and people out of jobs the food bank is working harder than usual.

In April they had 80% more distribution than last April. That was done with only 25% of its network operational.

“The majority of the distribution that we do now is outdoors so we’ve had a lot more feet on the ground than normal with a lot fewer volunteers to help and a lot more need,” says Gonzalez.

The pandemic has also cost the food bank their usual summer help.

During the month of June, the food bank is used to working with a lot of youth groups, vacation bible school groups wired so we’re going to miss out on those activities this year.

Anyone interested in hosting a food drive should contact the Wiregrass Area Food Bank to discuss how to do so safely.