Midwest Food Bank is continuing full operations, according to Will Garner, Executive Director. Some changes are in place as far as food distribution is concerned, but the organization is continuing to give away truckloads of much-needed food.
“We are continuing to receive, store and distribute large quantities of food to our local and regional nonprofit partners,” Garner says.
“As a faith-based organization, it is the mission of the Midwest Food Bank to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and provide disaster relief, all without discrimination,” Garner said in a blog post earlier this week. “Right now, in the midst of this global pandemic, Midwest Food bank is doing exactly what we have been called to do.”
“Truly, the only thing we are doing differently is we do not have large groups of volunteers gathering together to serve. We now rely on a very small number of volunteers to keep the operation going.“
“We are adhering to CDC guidelines on cleanliness, hygiene, and social distancing. We believe the pandemic will be behind us in a few weeks/months, but the economic impact will be felt by families and communities for the foreseeable future. It is imperative that Midwest Food Bank be financially prepared to increase the amount of support that we know will be needed in the coming months. We look forward to the day when we can once again hold hands with the agencies we serve and pray together.”
In response to questions from The Citizen, Garner summarized for partnering agencies and the community what’s changed and how you can help. Here are his responses to our questions.
As you recall we bring our partners into the warehouse and let them walk thru and select the items they want, we hug, hold hands and pray with our partnering agencies. That has changed. We are selecting everything for them, we are conducting “Drive-Thru” service. The agency representatives never get out of their vehicle. They drive into the warehouse and a couple of volunteers load their vehicle full of food.
The other big change is our volunteer activities. Any given week we would average several hundred volunteers coming to serve. We have cancelled all-volunteer group gatherings. We continue to operate with a core group of 10 volunteers who help keep the operation going, including our food distribution.
Last week was a distribution week. We gave away about 90 tons of food, we did all that with our staff of 4 employees and averaged 10 volunteers each day. Normally we would average 50 volunteers each day.
How can the community help?
Financial support is best. Normally we love getting food donations from our community, but right now, we don’t want our community taking food off the store shelves to bring to Midwest Food Bank. We need financial support to keep our semi-trucks on the road bringing the food from all over the country back to our warehouse. We promise the funds will be used wisely. Charity Navigator rates over 9,100 charities across the U.S. They just listed Midwest Food Bank as one of the top-rated charities in the country providing COVID-19 support. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=7869
Last year we launched a campaign to build a large-capacity freezer/refrigerator. To date, we have raised $410,000 for this project. We need approximately $150,000 more to complete the funding requirement for this construction project. Now more than ever we need the capacity to receive and store fresh and frozen food items. Providing more nutritious food will have a huge impact on the communities we serve. Our goal is to raise the needed funds in the next 30 days, break ground and have the freezer put into operation this summer.
We believe the virus crisis will pass in the coming weeks/months, but the economic impact on people in our community will be felt for the foreseeable future. Midwest Food Bank needs to be financially prepared to meet that long-term need.
Our mission is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and provide disaster relief. Providing support during COVID-19 is at the heart of who we are as an organization.
Can I come and get food from Midwest Food Bank?
No, as a food bank we provide support to local and regional certified nonprofit organizations such as food pantries, churches, and shelters.
How does my nonprofit organization sign up to receive food?
We have an agency interest form on our website: https://midwestfoodbank.org/agency-partners/agency-interest-form
Can I come and volunteer?
No, during this Pandemic time we are limiting the number of people in the warehouse. There are a few core, regular volunteers who are providing support to keep the operation going. We do look forward to the day when we can once again welcome large numbers of volunteers into our warehouse to help us Share the Blessings.
How can I help?
Our greatest need is financial support. Operating funds allow us the flexibility to put a truck on the road on short notice to pick up a load of donated food, or to make a bulk purchase of food. Donations can be made online at: https://midwestfoodbank.org/locations/peachtree-city-ga/donate-georgia
Additionally, we need to be connected with more food sources, such as manufacturers and food distributors.
Can I donate food to the food bank?
During this Pandemic time, we would prefer you to leave the food on the store shelves so our community can have access to it. Our focus will be on receiving truckloads of food from major national manufacturers and distribution centers.