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 to our critical staff and volunteers.
As a vital relief organization during times of crisis we worked quickly to ensure we could meet the need. Internally, we have created a task force that meets regularly to ensure the health and wellness of our volunteers, staff and the community we serve as we work to provide the basic necessity of healthy food across our 13-county service area.
We expect the need for food assistance to grow in the coming weeks and months. The Food Bank is undertaking the following actions to help meet the need in North Texas:
- Creating 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 can create a no to low touch distribution model that is safer for our partners and the neighbors they serve
- Activating the Mass Care Task Force, a collaborative partnership between NTFB, The Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Volunteer Now
- Enabling our Partner Agencies to create their own food boxes by providing them with boxes and food items
- Utilizing the event venue Sixty Five Hundred to serve as a temporary warehouse to increase our capacity to build more Food Boxes
- Working with local school districts to ensure continuity of our Food 4 Kids program as well as the School Pantry program
- Collaborating with the City of Dallas to prepare and deliver snack/hydration kits for the homeless who will be moved to the Convention Center
- Exploring the possibility of additional food distributions with the City of Dallas as well as the surrounding regions
- Transitioning our Mobile Pantry program to a drive thru model to create a “low touch” experience
- We are working in collaboration with Shiftsmart to source volunteers, ensuring that those that have lost wages as result of slowed consumer activity have an opportunity for employment
Our Volunteer Model is Changing - For Now
The North Texas Food Bank is partnering with the technology platform Shiftsmart to employ workers who have suffered from lost income as a result of the Coronavirus’ impact on the economy; deploying them in place of traditional volunteers to help the Food Bank meet the need for food assistance in North Texas. This new arrangement will take place effective March 23. Workers will be packing family meal boxes that will enable our partners to change their distribution models to a “low touch” method.
This partnership allows for the Food Bank to get a dedicated workforce at a time when we are seeing an increased demand for food assistance. Through this partnership, the NTFB and Shiftsmart will be able to serve more than 1 million meals per week to hungry North Texans.
The Food Bank is reaching out to all prescheduled volunteers alerting them of this change. We will notify our volunteer base once our operations return to normal.
Locally, the Food Bank is active in the Mass Care Task Force- a coalition comprised of NTFB, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army as well as Volunteer Now. This group has responded to disaster situations before and has activated in order to meet the needs of the North Texas community during this crisis.
For the Food Bank, the safety of our employees, volunteers and those we serve is the top priority. We pride ourselves in providing essential services to our neighbors in need and our goal is always to provide food to the neighbors that need it most. We know that disruptions from work or school can cause strain on low-income families, making our services that much more critical.
Our Work Continues
Right now, volunteer shifts are continuing thanks to staffing made possible by the team at Shiftsmart. Additional precautionary hygiene measures and contingencies are in place to maintain the health and wellness of our volunteer workforce 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, Shiftsmart staffers will have their temperature checked
- We are adding an additional volunteer shift to work to limit the number of people at each shift
- We are creating additional spacing between volunteer groups 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
- Volunteers will be prompted to wash hands before and during the shift and we will have gloves available upon request
- Hand sanitizing stations are available across the volunteer floor
- Tools used during the volunteer shift are cleaned after each shift
- High touch surfaces are 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)
The Food Bank is committed to the North Texas community and serving our neighbors in need.
As noted above: our work continues. We will regularly monitor for additional guidance and guidelines and will provide regular updates to the public. Should things change we will alert volunteer groups, post on social media and add information to our website, ntfb.org
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.