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Food pantry distribution methods adjust to COVID-19 guidelines

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By Megan Hussey

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As more and more families find themselves in need of food and supply donations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hernando and Tampa Bay help agencies are finding their resources much in demand and–in accordance with requisite safety measures–their means of distributing these necessities have been altered.

Yet still these organizations continue to help those who need it; resolute in their mission, but in need of help and support from their community.

In an effort to protect its clients and respect social distancing suggestions, The Salvation Army Brooksville/Hernando County has morphed their food pantry distribution into a drive through session.

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“We are currently still open to see people for utility assistance by appointment and we have modified our Tuesday food pantry into a drive thru for the safety of our volunteers and clients,” said Lt. Mike Chamberlain, who oversees the  Salvation Army Brooksville/Hernando County with Lt. Julie Chamberlain.

Yet to keep that pantry stocked and replenished, donations and contributions are needed.

“All of our donations are down at this time. We haven’t been receiving non-perishable food items in the quantities that will sustain our program at this time,” said Lt. Mike Chamberlain. “Also, we are in need of monetary funds to keep these critical programs open.”

To donate funds to the Salvation Army, visit https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/covid19/. Much needed donations of nonperishable food, baby supplies, hygiene products, cleaning and sanitizing items, and paper products, are being accepted at 15464 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville.  Call (352) 796-1186 for more information.

“It’s our desire to continue serving and doing all that we can with what we are given, that’s our purpose in this county and we mean to fulfill it,” said Lt. Mike Chamberlain. “We rely on the generosity of the community to help supply the needs of its most vulnerable citizens. And we will keep doing it.” 

Feeding Tampa Bay is a social service organization that feeds needy people in 10 area counties. And in the wake of recent events, the need is greater than ever. 

“As a first responder, it is our privilege to address the needs of the 10 counties that we serve, both safely and efficiently as possible,” said Shannon Oliviero, External Affairs Officer, Feeding Tampa Bay. “Our numbers (are) climbing to over 40% more than the 600,000 who normally depend on us.”

Like many other wide scale feeding operations, Feeding Tampa Bay has adjusted its method of food service in the wake of the Covid-19 virus.

“Our warehouse is distributing a variety of food items as quickly as they arrive, resulting in programs and delivery opportunities being updated daily,” said Oliviero. “We request any neighbor in need to please check our website, http://feedingtampabay.org/find-a-pantry/ for the most convenient distribution site near you.”

Upcoming in Hernando, Feeding Tampa Bay will be dispersing free food boxes at Redeemer’s Promise, 15120 County Line Rd, Spring Hill, April 11, 8 – 9 a.m. and at Hernando County YMCA, May 7, 4 – 5:30 p.m., 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. 

Feeding Tampa Bay, in order to feed so many, is in great need of donations at this time.

“In the wake of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), it’s important that we step up to help those in need of food,” read the organizational website. “Many of our families struggle to provide everyday meals, and with extended school breaks and business closures, this need is increasing to levels we’ve never seen before. Help us bring food to neighbors in need during this time of uncertainty.”  

In order to donate to Feeding Tampa Bay, visit http://feedingtampabay.org/donate/. Or call 813.254.1190 for more information. 

“We are thankful for the volunteers who continue to support us and donors who stand by Feeding Tampa Bay,” said Oliviero.


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