Area students often volunteer at the Creswell Food Pantry.
CRESWELL – As the community strives to absorb and adapt to the waves of information, precautions and mandates coming from medical, scientific, public health and governmental officials regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and how best to keep their families safe, it’s reassuring to know that local nonprofit organizations are still working to support those in need – including those impacted by a temporary loss of income as schools and businesses are impacted by the crisis.
Creswell Food Pantry continues to distribute food to individuals and families meeting gross monthly or annual income guidelines (see graphic, this page) every Thursday from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and is working hard to protect its customers and volunteers from viral transmission while meeting this vital community need.
”We understand that our customers will continue to need food throughout this Coronavirus global outbreak,” said Pantry manager, Susan Blachnik, adding that the Pantry is currently serving an average of 65 families per week, up from 40 one year ago.
The Pantry has implemented the following steps to protect customers and volunteers:
1) Pantry staff is temporarily reduced from 16 to nine, to run most efficiently and limit crowding.
2) Customers will remain outside and are asked to mingle in groups of three or fewer. No chairs or lines.
3) Check-in will be outside, in order of arrival. Judy (the Pantry’s check-in volunteer) is doing all the writing.
4) Early arrival is discouraged. The Pantry will not begin checking people in earlier than 11:45 a.m., as time is needed to put deliveries away and stock for the day.
5) Once checked in, waiting in cars until 12:30 p.m. is requested.
6) The Pantry will use only their own boxes or bags – no totes or boxes from homes.
7) Cart-moving volunteers will sanitize carts after each use; they will use hand gel and replace their gloves between customers.
8) Boxes will be prepacked, keeping in mind that most customers prefer minimal dried beans, since they are offered so often.
9) Pantry staff and volunteers always follow food-handling guidelines when working with fresh produce (good handwashing per guidelines and wearing gloves when handling produce).
10) If a customer is sick, the Pantry asks that they send someone in their place to pick up their food.
Despite the current and expected increase in customers, ”We have an adequate food supply overall, though we are low on canned foods,” Blachnik said.
She noted that due to Coronavirus concerns and the mandated two-week school closure, Creswell Middle School cancelled their March food drive.
”Families are needing to keep their homes stocked and cannot donate,” Blachnik said. Therefore, ”We ask that the community continue to support our food program by donating canned foods at the local food barrel locations – Farmlands Market, Creswell Bi-Mart, and Creswell Library.”
Donations can be mailed to Community Food for Creswell, PO Box 351, Creswell OR 97426.
Updates regarding Pantry services and needs will be posted on the Creswell Food Pantry Facebook page. For more information, call Food for Lane County at 541-343-2822, or Creswell Food Pantry manager Susan Blachnik at 541-246-9117.