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COVID-19 UPDATES

Mar 12, 2020 | Newsletter, Foodbank Blog

6/15/20

The Food Bank will hold drive-through Community Food Distributions in July. Registration is required to attend any of these events. Registration opens two days prior to the event. You can register online or by calling 1-833-432-3663 between 8am and 4pm on the days registration is open. The Food Bank is closed the week of June 29-July 3 for inventory. No Community Food Distributions will take place that week. Agencies remain open.

See June Community Food Distribution list here.

Please note the following:

  • These are drive-through distributions. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • SOME DISTRIBUTIONS ARE LIMITED TO CERTAIN COUNTY RESIDENTS.
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

05/28/20

The Food Bank will hold drive-through Community Food Distributions in June. Registration is required to attend any of these events. Registration opens two days prior to the event. You can register online at the link below or by calling 1-833-432-3663 between 8am and 4pm on the days registration is open.

Please note the following:

  • These are drive-through distributions. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • SOME DISTRIBUTIONS ARE LIMITED TO CERTAIN COUNTY RESIDENTS.
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

05/13/20

The Food Bank will hold drive-through Community Food Distributions for the second half of May. You must register to attend any of these events. Registration opens two days prior to the event. You can register online at the link below or by calling 1-833-432-3663 between 8am and 4pm on the days registration is open.

Please note the following:

  • These are drive-through distributions. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • SOME DISTRIBUTIONS ARE LIMITED TO CERTAIN COUNTY RESIDENTS.
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

04/27/20

The Food Bank will hold drive-through Community Food Distributions for the first half of May. You must register to attend any of these events. Registration opens two days prior to the event. You can register online at the link below or by calling 1-833-432-3663 between 8am and 4pm on the days registration is open.

Please note the following:

  • These are drive-through distributions. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • SOME DISTRIBUTIONS ARE LIMITED TO CERTAIN COUNTY RESIDENTS.
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

04/15/20

The Food Bank will hold drive-through Community Food Distributions on the following dates. You must register to attend any of these events. Registration opens two days prior to the event. You can register online or by calling 1-833-432-3663 between 8am and 4pm on the days registration is open.

 

Please note the following:

  • These are drive-through distributions. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • SOME DISTRIBUTIONS ARE LIMITED TO CERTAIN COUNTY RESIDENTS.
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

04/09/20

The Food Bank of the Southern Tier typically serves 22,000 people across the Southern Tier each week through out partner pantries and direct service program like Mobile Food Pantries and the BackPack Program. Since the shutdown crisis began in mid-March, our partner pantries are reporting a 51 percent increase in people served across the region.

Registrations for our Community Food Distributions show more than 60 percent of families needing food are first-time clients. This is a trend we expect to continue long after the risk of virus is over and the economy struggles to rebound.

Food distribution from our warehouse increased by 300 percent in the last two weeks of March 2020 compared to March 2019. Last week alone, the Food Bank distributed 500,000 lbs in the communities we serve.

Yesterday, we received a load of USDA flour for next week’s emergency food boxes, and wild Alaska pollock fish sticks will go to families at upcoming Community Food Distributions. Our partners at New York state-based Chobani donated 9,416 lbs of vanilla, strawberry and blueberry yogurt.

The increase in output means we must restock our 65,000 square foot warehouse as quickly as possible. Donor support is critical in helping us transport donated product into our warehouse and back out to food distributions.
Please consider making a gift to help us continue our work.

04/08/20

The Food Bank will hold drive-through Community Food Distributions on the following dates. You must register to attend any of these events. Registration opens two days prior to the event. You can register online or by calling 1-833-432-3663 between 8am and 4pm on the days registration is open.

Please note the following:

  • These are drive-through distributions. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • SOME DISTRIBUTIONS ARE LIMITED TO CERTAIN COUNTY RESIDENTS.
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

The Food Bank is continuing to work with partners to plan Community Food Distributions in each county.  They will be posted here, on our Facebook page and in our Food Finder as they are finalized. We are committed to increasing the amount of food distributed to all the communities we serve.

Our initiative will last until the public health crisis ends. Once COVID-19 community needs have been met, remaining funds and food will be used to support our ongoing hunger-relief efforts. The economic impact of this crisis will continue long after the public health emergency ends, and we expect the need for increased food assistance to continue throughout the economic recovery period. Please make a gift to help neighbors in need.

04/06/20

Community Food Distribution for TIOGA COUNTY RESIDENTS
  • Wednesday, April 8, 11am-2pm
  • Owego Elementary School, 2 Sheldon Guile Blvd, Owego

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Registration will open Monday, April 6 from 8am-4pm. Registration will re-open on Tuesday, April 7 from 8am-2pm. 
Register online or call 1-833-4FBFOOD (1-833-432-3663). 

Please note the following:

  • This is a drive-through distribution. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • RESIDENTS OF TIOGA COUNTY ONLY. 
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.
Community Food Distribution for BROOME COUNTY RESIDENTS
  • Thursday, April 9, 10am-1pm
  • Windsor High School, 1191 NY 79, Windsor, NY

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Registration will open Tuesday, April 7 from 8am-4pm. Registration will re-open on Wednesday, April 8 from 8am-2pm. 
Register online or call 1-833-4FBFOOD (1-833-432-3663). 

Please note the following:

  • This is a drive-through distribution. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • RESIDENTS OF BROOME COUNTY ONLY. 
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

The Food Bank is continuing to work with partners to plan Community Food Distributions in each county.  They will be posted here, on our Facebook page and in our Food Finder as they are finalized. We are committed to increasing the amount of food distributed to all the communities we serve.

Our initiative will last until the public health crisis ends. Once COVID-19 community needs have been met, remaining funds and food will be used to support our ongoing hunger-relief efforts. The economic impact of this crisis will continue long after the public health emergency ends, and we expect the need for increased food assistance to continue throughout the economic recovery period. Please make a gift to help neighbors in need.

03/28/2020

The Food Bank will hold a drive-through Community Food Distribution for STEUBEN COUNTY RESIDENTS

  • Wednesday, April 1, 10am-noon
  • Steuben County Fairgrounds, 15 E. Washington St., Bath

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED; first come, first served. Registration will open Monday, March 30 at 8am.
Register online or call 1-833-4FBFOOD (1-833-432-3663). 

Please note the following:

  • This is a drive-through distribution. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out unless instructed by volunteers.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • RESIDENTS OF STEUBEN COUNTY ONLY. 
  • PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

Our first drive-thru Community Food Distribution in Watkins Glen served 338 households on Thursday, March 26. Each household was served approximately 60 lbs. of dry good, fresh produce and frozen meats. 

The Food Bank is continuing to work with partners to plan Community Food Distributions in each county.  They will be posted here, on our Facebook page and in our Food Finder as they are finalized. We are committed to increasing the amount of food distributed to all the communities we serve.

Our initiative will last until the public health crisis ends. Once COVID-19 community needs have been met, remaining funds and food will be used to support our ongoing hunger-relief efforts. The economic impact of this crisis will continue long after the public health emergency ends, and we expect the need for increased food assistance to continue throughout the economic recovery period. Please make a gift to help neighbors in need.

03/23/2020

The COVID-19 health crisis is forcing the Food Bank of the Southern Tier to alter its methods of food distribution and to drastically increase the amount of food we are making available to our community.

Our standard food distribution system relies on providing food to local food pantries and programs to distribute to our neighbors in need. Most of our partner pantries are open and ordering extra food and developing ways to limit social contact during distributions. Find a pantry or meal program near me.

Our Mobile Food Pantry program serves areas without easy access to those traditional brick-and-mortar pantries. Mobile Food Pantry distributions bring groups as large as 100 people into close proximity with one another. As a result, Mobile Food Pantries are suspended and we are seeking alternative ways to distribute food to our community.

We are working with county leadership, school districts, regional BOCES and our partner food pantries and agencies to distribute sites in ways that limit social contact and the potential for spreading disease. We are committed to increasing the amount of food distributed to all the communities we serve.

This week, we will start holding Community Food Distributions which can serve several hundred households at one distribution. The Community Food Distributions will be centrally located in each of the six counties we serve. The two largest counties – Steuben and Broome – will be served by three distribution sites. Clients will stay in their cars as emergency food boxes are loaded into their cars to reduce contact.

The First Community Food Distribution will be for CHEMUNG AND SCHUYLER COUNTY RESIDENTS IN NEED from 10am-noon on Thursday, March 26 at the Schuyler County Highway Department at 910 S. Decatur Street in Watkins Glen.
Please note the following:

  • This is a drive-through distribution. Clients must be in a car. No walk ups. Limiting social contact is critical.
  • Stay in car. Do not get out. Keep windows rolled up.
  • Have trunk cleaned out for volunteers to put food in directly.
  • RESIDENTS OF SCHUYLER AND CHEMUNG ONLY. Please be prepared to show drivers license for proof of residency.

Additional locations can be found in our Food Finder as they are scheduled.

During normal operations, the Food Bank provides food assistance to 22,000 low-income residents each week. We believe the COVID-19 health crisis could double the number of people in need of food assistance in our six-county service area which includes Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties. 41% of those we serve at children; 18% are seniors.

Our initiative will last until the public health crisis ends. Once COVID-19 community needs have been met, remaining funds and food will be used to support our ongoing hunger-relief efforts. The economic impact of this crisis will continue long after the public health emergency ends, and we expect the need for increased food assistance to continue throughout the economic recovery period. Please make a gift to help neighbors in need.

03/20/2020

Food banks and food pantries are ESSENTIAL SERVICES

As New York state residents prepare for the shutdown of “non-essential” business under Governor’s orders, we want to reassure our communities that the Food Bank and our partner pantries and food programs are considered “essential services.” 

Essential services include: Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations including, food banks.

Our Mobile Food Pantries are suspended through this weekend but most of our pantries are operating as usual with increased food supplies. Our 157 partner pantries serve more than 18,000 people each week and we are continuing to deliver their food orders as usual. We will continue to operate as long as we possibly can.

Please use our Food Finder to locate pantries, meal sites and food programs near you. Find food.

Hear from our President & CEO live on WETM News March 20.

03/18/2020

Mobile Food Pantries are cancelled through Saturday, March 21.

We know our MFP program is an important resource to our community. We are working with our county leadership, school districts and partner agencies to create low- and no-contact distribution methods. We are reevaluating how we can serve our communities in the safest ways possible.

Stay tuned for a plan by the end of the week.

We are continuing to supply our partners with food. Please use our Food Finder to locate pantries, meal sites and food programs near you. Find food.

The Food Bank will suspend volunteer activities at our warehouse as of Thursday, March 19.

One week ago, we announced a need for volunteers to help pack emergency food boxes. Since then, volunteers have packed more than 3,500 boxes and bagged 17,000 lbs of oranges. We are grateful for the support of our volunteer network in these uncertain times.

We know our operations place volunteers and staff in a vulnerable position with close contact during packing. We have implemented more strict health and safety measures during recent shifts. However, our emergency response team has decided we can longer place our staff and volunteers at risk of exposure to COVID-19, and so we are closing our production to non-staff persons.

We ask our volunteers and our community to support our work through online donations. While some of us are experiencing hard times during shutdowns of businesses and employment, many of us are not spending our discretionary funds as we normally would.

We ask those still wishing to make an impact to do so by donating the amount you would spend on date night, pizza and a movie, or any other cancelled activities on meals for your neighbors in need. Give now.

We will see an increased need for many months as workers are laid off or dismissed from closing businesses. Donations will keep us nimble as we try to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, as well as individuals and families who are suddenly finding themselves in need they’ve never experienced before.

If you would like to try to continue to volunteer, we encourage you to reach out to 2-1-1 Helpline by dialing 211 from your phone (online at www.211helpline.org), or reach out to the United Way in your community.

03/16/2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced mandatory shutdown of movie theaters, gyms and bars, and take-out service only for restaurants. Many county office buildings and private businesses are closing. The Food Bank is anticipating increased need as employees are laid off during these closings.

 

Developments
  • We are experiencing a decrease in donated food items and are purchasing more food than usual from wholesalers. We are also purchasing cleaning and hygiene products. We require community support to sustain these purchases. Help now.
  • The Food Bank is switching all Mobile Food Pantry distributions to pre-packed emergency food boxes instead of market-style client choice to limit the amount of time people congregate together, effective March 17. Clients can expect to receive a box of non-perishable items, as well as produce, dairy products, breads and meats when these items are available.
  • All Just Say Yes to Fruits & Vegetables classes are suspended.
  • We are updating the list of hunger relief resources daily in our Food Finder tool. However, we recommend clients call the sites near them to verify service is available each day. Use the Food Finder.
  • We are keeping track of school meals sites as we become aware of them in the right column of this page. We are distributing BackPack food packs to schools. Food Bank Programs & Partnerships Coordinators are checking in with our school district partners to determine their capacity to distribute emergency food boxes to families.
  • Volunteer shifts remain open. We have put out a call for volunteers to help us pack emergency food boxes which will be the priority over the next few weeks. Volunteer now.
  • In order to reduce widespread social interaction, we may limit volunteer activities to a small group of healthy individuals who are dedicated to self-quarantine during the pandemic. If you can commit to regular volunteer shifts and would like to be considered for this role, please email our volunteer coordinator.

03/14/2020

School districts throughout the counties we serve – Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome – are announcing longterm school closures today to prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. The Food Bank is working with all 41 school districts in our region to develop plans to ensure children and families in need do not go hungry during this shutdown. We are working with agencies to funnel state and federal assistance to our local schools, food pantries and programs.

One in five children in the Southern Tier are at risk of food insecurity. More than 50 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. Many children rely on one or two school meals as their most nutritious meals of the day. More than 3,000 children receive packs of food through our BackPack Program each Friday to supplement their diet on weekends and on school breaks. The Food Bank is committed to continuing service throughout the shutdown. Our programs will evolve as needs develop and change.  

Here are some recent developments regarding school closures:
  • Our Programs & Partnerships Coordinators have been working with school districts to determine schools’ capacity to handle BackPack, and possibly emergency food box, distribution during closure.
  • Kids’ Farmers Markets are cancelled.
  • College Mobile Food Pantries are cancelled, as SUNY colleges are suspended. We will continue to work with college food pantries to ensure campuses have the food they need to serve their college community.
  • We are working with our Feeding America network colleagues from more than 170 other food banks across the country to stay on top of developments and measures at the national level.
Our other measures:
  • We have switched all Senior Mobile Food Pantry distributions to pre-packed emergency food boxes instead of client choice to limit the amount of time people congregate together.
  • Volunteers are needed at our warehouse to help pack emergency food boxes, which will be our priority over the next few weeks. We are implementing extra health and safety measures for staff and volunteers.
  • We have sent communications and signage to our Mobile Food Pantry partners with distribution recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • We have drafted additional recommendations for our partner pantries and meal sites that we have reviewed with our Agency Advisory Council.

We continue to need community support as we amplify our efforts during an uncertain time when we will most surely experience an increased need for food assistance. We rely on our donors and volunteers, for whom we are truly grateful.

03/12/2020

The Food Bank of the Southern Tier is closely monitoring the ongoing situation with the coronavirus known as COVID-19. 

We know that families with limited income, particularly seniors, do not have the luxury of stocking up on food and supplies. We know that many of our clients do not have the ability to endure a leave without pay if their employment suspends during a shutdown. Children who rely on school meals will be impacted by a long-term school shutdown.

Nutritious food is essential in maintaining good health so we are working to ensure our partners have the means to distribute food throughout this uncertain time.

Health and Safety

The safety and well-being of our staff, clients, partners and volunteers is a top priority at the Food Bank. Because we rely so heavily on volunteers, we are taking several proactive measures:

  • Asking volunteers and staff to remain home if they show any signs of illness.

  • Eliminating volunteer handling of open products.

  • Requiring all volunteers to wash hands and wear gloves when handling food.

We will continue to need the help of volunteers to sort and pack food and supplies for distribution. Many of our regular volunteers are seniors who may be advised to avoid public places. We will need volunteers to fill in the gap. Volunteer now.

Please know that all volunteers and staff who come to the Food Bank are immediately asked to wash their hands and wear gloves before handling food. Food Bank staff are visually screening volunteers as they arrive each day. Please know, the Food Bank’s staff already adheres to the highest of food and health safety standard, including strict cleaning and sanitizing practices daily throughout our facility. 

Increased Food Distribution

In the coming weeks, we will focus on continuing food distribution to our 300+ partner agencies and programs in ways that limit large gatherings of people.

Each month we deliver food through Mobile Food Pantry distributions to 82 sites including 27 senior residential centers. We  have begun packing boxes of food for “drop and go” delivery to limit person-to-person contact, encouraging clients to take boxes of food without having to congregate in lines. 

Our Programs & Partnerships Coordinators are reaching out to all 41 school districts in the six counties we serve to assess the needs of students and families in the event of school shutdowns. 

Anyone in need of food assistance is encouraged to use our Food Finder tool to locate food pantries, programs and community meals in their community. As we anticipate a volunteer shortage, we encourage clients to call ahead to verify sites will be open at the stated times.

We will continue to monitor local, state and federal guidance and maintain contacts with our community partners and health organizations to ensure best practices for safety while continuing to serve the needs of the community. As this situation continues to evolve, we will share updates and information via this page and Facebook.