Lee Food Pantry – COVID-19 Restructure
COVID-19 has changed the way we are distributing food. We are using a “No Touch Model.” For the last six months our volunteers have felt safe and are happy with the new way for distributing food. Here are some changes we have made.
We are asking suspension of volunteers 60 years and older and to seek volunteers 18 – 60 at this time. As 90% of our volunteers are over 60 years, we have reached out to the community. The response has been wonderful. Some volunteers have already expressed they want to continue. Our suggestion to them is to pre-bag during the week when no one is there, that would be of great help.
We no longer are using reusable bags. Environmentally friendly plastic bags have been purchased.
We have supplied the pantry with gloves, masks, sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
No one is to enter the building except volunteers. Clients do not sign in as we are logging names and total family counts for now.
Before the doors open on Saturday, the pre-bagged food is ready to go and set out in the large room. Three different sections are marked by family size; i.e. 1-2 persons, 3-4 persons and 5 plus persons.
Volunteers are filling bags on Thursdays and Fridays. The reason for filling bags on these days is to give us time to restock the shelves. Shopping will be done and shelved by Wednesday evening. A weekly log of volunteers and time schedule is being kept. It is best to have no more than two people at a time to pre-bag as the pantry area is a small space. Breads and produce are the only items to bag on Saturday mornings.
A table is placed outside the front door where clients would normally enter. We have cones and signage for distancing. A new form on a clipboard has been made with just name and how many adults and how many children. They are then asked to step back to wait for the food to be brought out. The bags of food are then placed on the table by a volunteer who will then step back and instruct the client to retrieve. The volunteer will then inform them that if there is food they will not use, to place those items in the two marked boxes on the side of the building.
4 VOLUNTEERS FOR SATURDAYS: One volunteer is needed to retrieve special items requested like diapers, pet food or personal hygiene items. Two volunteers are needed for checking people in and to retrieve food. The fourth volunteer is outside to guide clients, maintain distance and to direct people dropping of food donations.
If a new client shows up, we are not having them fill out an application. It would be great if they have an ID or proof of residency to show. We will not turn anyone away. Our numbers so far have remained the same. In September the Food Insecurity program from the Lee Schools is ending. They were providing meals for 35 households in Lee. We do expect an increase when this happens.
Post COVID-19, we will probably continue with the new way we are doing things. The pre-bagging is working well, we now offer Milk and Eggs, trying to keep Highlawn Farm busy, and the use of the larger room to keep items organized and accessible.
We have been blessed with a very generous community. People taking care of people. The way of Love!!
You can make a donation to The Lee Food Pantry through PayPal. 100% of all donations go directly to the purchase of food for people in need.
The Lee Pantry began in 1991 when the Community Emergency Needs Resource Center (“The Lee Pantry”) was established and located at St. George’s. St. George’s parishioners organized and ran the pantry, with the help of other churches and organizations, who staff the pantry each Saturday morning. In 2010 the people of St. George’s began to worship with the people of St. James at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington. In 2010 and 2011 St. George’s sold their properties. The people of St. George’s wanted to continue to operate the Lee Pantry, so it was moved to the Airlodi Building in Lee. When St. George’s and St. James consolidated in 2013, the Lee Pantry became a mission of Grace Church. It now serves about 50 families per week.