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 has asked for support from the Texas National Guard.
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:
- Effective Sunday April 5, more than 250 members of the National Guard will be deployed at the North Texas Food Bank.
- Guard members will be on-site initially for 30 days and will be applied in four areas:
- Production line: 120 will be immediately put to work on the production floors, creating family meal boxes for distribution.
- Mobile Pantry distribution: 30 will be deployed to expand our growing Mobile Pantry Distributions
- Warehouse and Supply Chain: 42 guard members will be trained on our warehouse operations and 12 will be allocated as drivers.
- Partner agency support: 60 will be available to assist our partner agencies who are also in need of support.
- The efforts by the Texas National Guard will enable 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 can create a no to low touch distribution model that is safer for our partners and the neighbors they serve
- The Food Bank is enabling our Partner Agencies to create their own food boxes by providing them with boxes and food items
- NTFB has opened a temporary warehouse space in Plano to help us meet the need for boxed food. This warehouse will also be 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 is collaborating with the City of Dallas to prepare and deliver snack/hydration kits for the homeless who were moved to the Convention Center
- The Food Bank team is exploring the possibility of additional food distributions with the City of Dallas as well as the surrounding regions
- Our Mobile Pantry program is now exclusively a drive thru model to create a “low touch” experience
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, the food bank's volunteer and distribution efforts are continuing thanks to the support of the Texas National Guard. Additional precautionary hygiene measures and contingencies are in place to maintain the health and wellness of our staff, the members of the Texas National Guard 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 members of the Texas National Guard 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.