COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has led to the Union Food Pantry closing its doors.
The food pantry closed until further notice because too many of its volunteers are seniors in a vulnerable age group for the virus, said volunteer Jan Brennan.
The closure comes as the food pantry was seeing strong demand. Brennan said 29 families came to pick up food in two hours at the pantry Monday, March 18, the last day it was open. That’s more than the roughly 25 families it typically sees each Monday and Thursday.
The pantry also has issues with so many people in a small facility during the pandemic, where “social distancing” is advised.
“That was a lot of families to be in a building like that,” Brennan said.
Union Food Pantry is staffed totally by unpaid volunteers, more than 40 total.
“We do it because we want to give back to the community,” Brennan said.
Brennan hopes the closure will be short-lived.
“We will try our best to get back as soon as we can, because I know we are important to the community,” she said.
Other Food Providers
Union Food Pantry isn’t the only area food distribution network to be impacted by the coronavirus. The Harvest Table, a free community meal served on Saturday evenings, announced it was closing for two weeks because COVID-19 concerns closed host St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Washington.
Harvest Table volunteers are continuing to stock Little Free Food Pantries in Washington.
Meanwhile, Second Blessings Food Pantry continues to open on Tuesdays and Thursdays at First Presbyterian Church, 105 E Main St. in Union, but with some special regulations because of coronavirus.
According to the pantry’s Facebook page, no one can enter the church during the food operation, even to use the restroom or get a drink of water. Clients are asked line up on the sidewalk a “good distance” apart and be called to sign in.
For people who have pre-registered, Second Blessings will bring prepacked bags of food to a designated location outside for people to pick up. The agency wrote that its seen a drastic drop in donations and it may need to reduce its pick-ups to serve the 40-to-50 families who use the pantry every week.
While schools are closed, the Union R-XI School District will offer breakfast and lunch for children 18 and under starting Monday, March 23, at Clark-Vitt, Central and Beaufort Elementary schools, if demand is there. To help gauge demand, the district is asking families interested in the meals to fill out a survey at tinyurl.com/r2jo4zx.