The North Texas Food Bank’s Response to Covid-19
Like the rest of the world, the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is closely monitoring the evolving Coronavirus situation and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), our national partner Feeding America and local entities including the Dallas County Health & Human Services (DCHHS).
The Food Bank is considered critical infrastructure and will remain open. In order to safely meet the need for food assistance in our region, the Food Bank received support from the Texas National Guard and is currently working with displaced hospitality workers paid by a special fund called Get Shift Done.
Meeting the Need in North Texas
NTFB has temporarily suspended most traditional volunteer shifts and is working with the displaced hospitality employees to create family meal boxes. This partnership provides income thanks to Shiftsmart and a fund at the Communities Foundation of Texas called Get Shift Done while also providing a critical service to the community.
Texas National Guard
We have seen the need for food assistance grow. On Sunday, April 5, more than 250 members of the National Guard were deployed at the North Texas Food Bank.
Guard members were on-site for over two months helping in four areas:
- Production line: 120 working on the production floors, creating family meal boxes for distribution.
- Mobile Pantry distribution: 30 deployed to expand our growing Mobile Pantry Distributions.
- Warehouse and Supply Chain: 42 guard members were trained on our warehouse operations and 12 were allocated as drivers.
- Partner agency support: 60 were available to assist our partner agencies who are also in need of support.
- The efforts by the Texas National Guard enabled the Food Bank to create at least 60,000 family meal boxes each week and making these available for our Partner Agencies and via our Mobile Pantry program.
- By shifting to a box model, we created a no to low touch distribution model that is safer for our partners and the neighbors they serve.
- The Food Bank enabled our Partner Agencies to create their own food boxes by providing them with boxes and food items.
- NTFB opened a temporary warehouse space in Plano to help meet the need for boxed food. This warehouse was also staffed by members of the Texas National Guard.
- The Mass Care Task Force is now active. This is a collaborative partnership between NTFB, The Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Volunteer Now.
- We are working with local school districts to ensure continuity of our Food 4 Kids program as well as the School Pantry program.
- Our team worked with the City of Dallas to prepare and deliver snack/hydration kits for the homeless who were moved to the Convention Center.
- Our Mobile Pantry program is now exclusively a drive-thru model to create a “low touch” experience.
Key Statistics & Information
- In FY20, NTFB served a total of 97 million nutritious meals. We served 20 million more meals than in FY19 to those in need and exceeded our year's goal of 80 million.
- For FY20, NTFB distributed 34M+ pounds of produce, which was 37% of our total gross distribution.
- For the month of July, NTFB received almost 12.5 million pounds of food and distributed more than 10.7 million pounds.
- Texas has secured approval to extend SNAP benefits that are up for renewal in July and August by another six months. Still, a 15% increase in SNAP benefits will help families buy more food.
- Nationally, from March 1 to May 24, Feeding America distributed an estimated 1.3 billion meals to people facing hunger in the United States.
- As of the week of July 27, NTFB has hosted more than 165 COVID-19 disaster relief mobile distributions.
Precautionary Hygiene Measures
Right now, the food bank's volunteer and distribution efforts are continuing thanks to the support of the workers employed thanks to the Get Shift Done fund. Additional precautionary hygiene measures and contingencies are in place to maintain the health and wellness of our staff, Get Shift Done team members as well as those that receive our food:
- We are taking necessary measures to ensure all employees, visitors, and persons served who are experiencing any symptoms of illness stay home and avoid contact
- Prior to each shift NTFB staffers and anyone entering our building will have their temperature checked
- We are creating additional spacing between the groups working on the volunteer floor
- External facing staff have been provided with sanitizing kits to safeguard themselves and the public
- We are following the recommendations of the CDC to help stop the spread of germs and have posted their guidelines in public areas as a reminder for those coming to the Food Bank
- All team members will be prompted to wash hands before and during shifts and we will also have gloves available
- Hand sanitizing stations are available across the volunteer floor
- Tools used during each shift will be cleaned after each shift
- High touch surfaces will be cleaned frequently
In addition, we are also providing the following suggestions to employees, volunteers, partners and other supporters:
- If you feel ill, stay home and avoid exposing others
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands)
For additional information and resources please visit the CDC website or call the Texas Department of State Health Services hotline: 1-877-570-9779 with hours: 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Monday - Friday.
Thank you for your continued support of the North Texas Food Bank, we are committed to serving our neighbors in need.