The Food Bank of Delaware hopes to distribute extra food in the coming days in response to the new coronavirus — but is being forced to develop creative ways to do it.
Food Bank spokesperson Kim Turner says the organization expects more people to rely on its services as new restrictions on restaurants and bars in Delaware hit the incomes of many hourly workers.
The Food Bank of Delaware is hosting three drive-through food distribution events this week in an attempt to limit personal contact while distributing food to more families in need due to the pandemic.
The organization originally hoped to serve 500 families at each event. Customers must meet federal poverty guidelines.
The first drive-through was held in Wilmington on Wednesday. Turner says some cars were turned away partway through the event because the line obstructed traffic. The Food Bank restocked halfway through the event, and Turner estimates a total of roughly 1,200 families will be served at the event.
A second drive-through pantry event will be held in Georgetown on Thursday, and a third will be held in Dover Friday.
Turner says the food bank aims to distribute millions of additional pounds of food because of the new coronavirus.
“We just want to be able to get as much food out to people now in case there is a quarantine that’s mandated,” she said.
But recommendations of social distancing present a problem for the traditional food pantry model. So the Food Bank has modified operations at its Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford.
“We have stopped the shopping of the shelves, and now they have to drive up to our back ramp,” she said. “We will load food into their vehicle. We just don’t want a bunch of people congregating in our waiting area, bumping into people through the isles. So we are definitely looking at how to get food out in a different manner.”
Turner admits access will be difficult for people without cars, and recommends those seeking food assistance call the social service hotline at 211.
“If they have somebody who could give them a ride— it’s definitely a challenge and uncharted waters that we haven’t experienced before,” she said.
The Food Bank is also working with school districts to continue distributing backpacks of weekend food to children. Districts are working to continue distributing weekday meals despite the two-week school closure ordered by Gov. John Carney.
Turner says the Food Bank of Delaware has been receiving extra food from the USDA as a result of the agency’s aid to farmers during the U.S. trade war with China. She says the Food Bank’s supply of food has not been impacted by the new coronavirus yet, but she fears that could happen in the long term.
Turner says monetary donations are more helpful than donations of food. Information about volunteering for the Food Bank of Delaware is available online.
This story has been updated.