Durango Food Bank began offering emergency supplemental food bags to in-need clients Tuesday until supplies run out in an effort to help people, especially those 60 and older, who might need to self-isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sarah Smith, executive director of the Durango Food Bank, said 300 emergency supplemental food bags have been prepared and distribution took place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday in a new procedure in which volunteers load clients’ cars in a drive-thru that is set up to minimize exposure of personal contact. The process allows clients to remain in their vehicles while they are loaded.
“The emergency bags will be available to anyone in need. Hopefully, they will be utilized only by clients who can’t afford a reserve supply and need to self-isolate. We want to help people who self-isolate and provide them with a small supply of food to help,” Smith said.
The drive-thru process devised for pickups Tuesday will be used going forward.
“We want to get seniors, anyone over 60, a reserve of nonperishables so they don’t have to be out and about to restock their supplies,” Smith said. “We want to establish a process where a large group of people will be able to pick up donations and go with limited contact.”
Also, during the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. pickup, the Durango Food Bank distributed its regular food bank orders, which cover a two-week supply of food.
People who use Durango Food Bank must have a valid address in La Plata County and be food insecure.
Durango Food Bank’s drive-thru process will continue for its regular schedule of food dispersals, which are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.
Volunteers are also sought by Durango Food Bank to assist distributions.
Smith said since the outbreak of COVID-19, Durango Food Bank’s volunteer base has declined by about half because many of its volunteers are 60 and older and must limit person-to-person contacts.
“Healthy and able bodies are great,” she said.
Additionally, runs on grocery stores have left Durango Food Bank in need of food donations, but most especially monetary donations to restock supplies.
Smith said monetary donations allow Durango Food Bank to minimize person-to-person contacts while it restocks its shelves.
Monetary donations can be made at durangoareafoodbank.org/give and checks can be mailed to Durango Food Bank, PO Box 156, Durango, CO 81303.
Durango Food Bank is working on an online food drive. Smith said anyone who wants to donate food and maintain social distancing can visit the Food Bank’s AmazonSmile page to make a donation that can be directly delivered. The food bank can also get food directly delivered from online orders made to City Market and Walmart, she said.
Given the recent rush to supermarkets, food donations have come to a halt. Further, corporate contributions from food recovery programs have also been down.
The Food Bank needs help getting crucial supplies, especially high-protein items like canned meats, beans and peanut butter, Smith said.
Smith said Durango Food Bank’s clientele base may grow as people lose hours and have shifts cut or face layoffs at Durango’s restaurants and other tourist attractions.
“The Food Bank is here to pick up the slack. When people have a shortfall in wages or business is slow, we’re here to help,” she said.
For more information about how to help or to make a donation, email Smith at email@example.com or call 375-2672.
The Food Bank will do everything it can to provide a safety net for those in need, even if it exhausts supplies down the road, Smith said.