Like many of you, we have been following the rapidly changing situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak. At our board of directors meeting on Tuesday, we developed some tentative plans going forward for the rest of the school year. Since this issue is changing daily, these plans will be updated as necessary over the coming weeks and months. We appreciate your understanding and patience.
First and foremost, we have not yet made specific plans for school closings. We don’t want to get into speculation since there are so many different possibilities for what the school districts and public health officials could do. It should also be noted that we are a supplemental nutrition program and we rely on the the schools to distribute our food bags. We do not have the capacity to do the distribution ourselves. In fact, due to our focus on confidentiality, we ourselves don’t know the identity of the children that receive our bags. Meanwhile, our board of directors already is in continuous communication on the issue and as soon as any announcement is made regarding school closings, we will be meeting to discuss our options. While we don’t have specifics yet, please know that as the situation progresses, we will be doing everything we can to make sure that the children we serve continue to have access to food.
Beyond that, regarding our volunteer events, which we have more control over: Here are some initial general guidelines:
- If you have a cough or fever or feel unwell, please DO NOT volunteer. Stay home and take care of yourself.
- We will be asking all volunteers to go to the bathroom and wash their hands prior to entering the sort rooms to volunteer.
- If you are over the age of 60 or have underlying medical issues, please reconsider volunteering in the sort rooms with us. If you do want to come, perhaps we can have you help upstairs where it would be less crowded and better ventilated.
Starting with our next food sort, we will be implementing a lower limit on the number of people in each room. We will only allow 9 people per room to sign up online and maintain a strict limit of 10 people per room at the sort itself.
To help lighten the load for this lower number of people, and still allow people to volunteer, we will be doing sorts on Tuesdays during sort weeks. There will be 9 spots available to sign-up online for Tuesdays. The other 9 spots on Tuesdays will be reserved for any groups or businesses that would like to volunteer. If you have such a group or business, please email us directly so we can schedule you accordingly.
Additionally, we are implementing a new limit on child volunteers. If you are a parent, you can only bring ONE child under the age of 10. There are two reasons for this: (1) to have higher efficiency for the sorts with a lower number of volunteers and (2) to limit the potential spread of germs from younger children, especially since they might not show any symptoms. Children over the age of 10 are welcome without this restriction. (So, feel free to bring your 12-year old and your 7-year old together)
This is obviously a difficult restriction for us to implement, since we pride ourselves on being a volunteer opportunity for the entire family, but given the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in, we hope you understand. We look forward to welcoming back our younger volunteers as soon as this situation passes.
Updated sign-ups for the Tuesday sorts, and the lower number Wednesday sorts are now active online.
Another concern is our upcoming Thank-You Event on March 27. At the moment, the only change we have decided upon is that we will no longer be having hors d’oeuvres at the event, due to the risk of transmission from shared food platters. We will continue to evaluate the Thank-You Event over the coming days, and we will keep you informed of any further changes.
As mentioned above, the biggest concern is what will happen in the event of school closings. Unfortunately, this is a situation where we will have to react to what the school districts decide. As soon as those decisions are made, we will work with the schools and adjust accordingly. Please be patient with us as we adapt to this ever-changing situation and work to maintain services for our kids.
We will continue to update you as the situation evolves.
Thank you so much for your continued support!