When California first shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that we were considered an essential business, and we knew that we needed to keep serving food to our clients. However, it took some creativity to make that happen safely. Here’s what we have done so far to keep things moving smoothly here at Tracy Interfaith:
1. We decided to shut our building down to clients, and instead hand out food in a carline out front. This has actually worked great: clients don’t have to get out of their cars or come in contact with anyone in order to get their food. Clients with little kids or disabilities have said that it is a lot easier for them to get their food this way, so we might keep doing it as needed even after the pandemic! The biggest issue is having our volunteers taking orders out in the heat all day, but we have some super hard workers who are committed to being out there no matter what.
2. We stopped taking household and clothing donations from the community. We really hated to do this but knew that unfortunately we had to for a couple of reasons. First of all, we knew that everyone was stuck at home cleaning out their closets. If we allowed donations, we would have been overwhelmed with stuff. Normally we would love to have it all, but right now we are limiting the number of volunteers in the building. By eliminating the need to sort clothing, we require a lot less volunteers. Plus, since we aren’t giving out any clothing, we would quickly run out of places to keep all of it! On a normal, pre-pandemic day, we get an average of 2,000 pounds of items donated every day! That’s a lot to sort, store, and hang. So even though we know that you want to give us your donations, hopefully this helps explain why we can’t take it quite yet.
3. We streamlined our grocery box packing system. We have worked hard to make sure that every family gets about the same amount of food (based on their family size) and that it is food they can use. We have gotten lots of food donated by local stores and community members, and we want to make sure it all gets into the hands of people that need it the most.
4. We are working on a plan to safely reopen our building as soon as we can. We have installed plexiglass social distancing barriers at our intake desks and rearranged our pantry so it is less crowded. We are also working on a plan to allow our clients to shop in the clothing store at a safe distance from each other and our volunteers.
Overall, the pandemic has actually helped us make some great changes here at Tracy Interfaith! Thank you for your ongoing support!