Long before any of us could have even imagined that something like the coronavirus would threaten the population of the United States, Apache Junction has been proud to support numerous nonprofits that specifically serve those populations that must cope with food insecurity, whether through homelessness, fixed incomes or financial crises. These same populations include many who are most at risk from COVID-19.
The News reached out to two of these organizations, Genesis Project and the Superstition Food Bank, to find out how they are dealing with the challenge of serving their clientele during the new realities of social distancing. Thanks to dedicated volunteers, they are still in operation. We include their comments below.
Genesis Project will continue to serve meals each day. I am blown away by the amount of new people who have come in. With the closure of the Multi-Gen center, we will see even more elderly who would normally eat at the senior center and families with children who aren’t in school and parents who cannot work with daycare closures. While continuing to provide meals for those in our community who are food insecure, the most responsible and loving thing we can do for volunteers and our guests, is, for the time being, to alter how we serve. We are transitioning to a to-go model that allows people to still be fed a hot meal, but minimizes contact in a dining room setting.
- The entire building will be closed to anyone but volunteers
- Managers will continue to choose the menu and cook as usual
- Ray will still visit local stores to pick up daily donations
- Instead of lunch line style service, meals and desserts will be packed into clam-shell containers, instead of plates
- The hot meals will then be taken to the storage room on carts and handed out through the window as part of the drive-thru model we have been seeing as part of responsible social distancing
- Bathroom Access: Unfortunately, there will be no bathroom access for our guests during this time; allowing a guest inside to use the restroom will break the germ barriers we are desperately trying to put in place
- Shower Vouchers: We will not be passing out shower vouchers until the Monday after the Multi-Gen Center has been reopened
I know with this new model of service, little snafus will likely pop up each day, but as a team, I am confident we can all work together to make this as successful as possible. We are still continuing our mission to feed, clothe and hydrate, even though it looks a lot different than usual.
I truly cannot thank our volunteers enough for the tremendous sacrifice they make every week, let alone amidst the chaos we are seeing now! They show up and make a difference in the world by loving God’s people, and it is truly the honor of my life to serve alongside each of them in this mission.
Superstition Food Bank
“The spirit of neighbors-helping-neighbors has been the backbone of this country through wars, disasters, epidemics, depression, recession and now, pandemic. I can tell you that spirit is alive and well right now at the Superstition Community Food Bank (formerly known as the Apache Junction Food Bank, 575 N. Idaho Rd #701). While food demand is growing daily and supplies are down, our partners, staff and volunteers are doing everything possible to keep families from going hungry. I speak for all of us at the food bank,” says Executive Director Myra Garcia, “in assuring the community, we will be here for them as long as we have enough food and volunteers to continue our mission.”
The food bank’s rescued food supply (from 18 local stores) is down 75%, while demand is up more than 15% and rising. If the trend continues, Superstition Food Bank will need to raise $60,000 a month to purchase non-perishable food items to keep up with the demand.
Donations can be made on-line at superstitionfoodbank.org/donate, or simply drop off to a volunteer curbside.
According to Garcia, the major challenges come down to supply and demand of both food and volunteers. With children at home and parents out of work, food necessity is expected to rise even higher. Meanwhile, several seniors – a large part of the food bank’s volunteer base – are now unavailable, because of health-related issues rising from the pandemic’s effect on that age group.
“As the situation continues to evolve, so do we,” says Garcia. “We are changing our distribution process to a drive-up service beginning on Monday March 23, so clients don’t have to wait in line and can avoid social contact. Clients will provide their registration information to a volunteer at the warehouse drive-up door, and their food will be delivered to their vehicle from our receiving door. As always, the quantity of food provided will depend on the size of the family and the inventory we have on hand on any given day.”
Cleaning and sanitizing procedures at the food bank have been significantly increased to protect both clients and volunteers to the greatest possible extent. “We need more volunteers right now. Perhaps students and school-related workers could help a few hours a week. Perhaps those whose routine jobs have been disrupted could find time to volunteer? By coming together, we can make this work.”
For the time being, food distribution hours remain the same: Monday through Friday from 2-4 p.m., and food donation hours: 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For more information or to offer help, please call us at 480-983-2995.
From all of us at the Superstition Community Food Bank, thank you for pulling together as a community to become a mighty force for collective good.