Update: Friday, June 5, 2020 (noon)
By Lisa Scales
Today, 10 of the 11 counties the Food Bank serves have moved to the “green” phase. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, our organization has worked to maintain operations at full capacity. Due to social distancing recommendations, stay at home orders and the requirement of face coverings, we have taken diligent steps to create the safest environment for our staff, volunteers and those we serve.
Internally, this included tripling our cleaning protocols, enforcing the use of face coverings two weeks prior to them being mandatory, checking temperatures of everyone entering our building, enabling staff to work from home as much as possible and, the toughest decision of all, we restricted volunteer activities inside our warehouse in Duquesne. Outside of the Food Bank, we had to suspend our Produce to People distributions and Green Grocer program due to the face to face interaction at these events.
Today, we are able to begin working towards lessening the restrictions on our mission activities and serving our community in a more traditional way. With all things, patience is a virtue. To ensure we can continue to fulfill our mission uninterrupted, we will take every precaution necessary in getting back to our pre-COVID operations.
Just this week we have started to reopen our doors to our passionate and mission critical volunteers. However, there are a few key requirements for the immediate future pertaining to participation. Through June, a minimal number of volunteers (no more than five) will work per shift. Our shifts are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. We are asking all volunteers to commit to a minimum of three shifts per week. Because we will be operating with a reduced number of volunteers per shift to comply with social distancing guidelines, all volunteers must register prior to arriving for a volunteer shift. No walk-ins will be accepted at this time. Additionally, volunteers will be required to:
- Wear protective face coverings at all times (covering both nose and mouth)
- Have their temperature checked upon entering the facility
- If the temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or above, the volunteer will be asked to leave for the day
- Wash their hands before and after their volunteer shifts and after breaks
- Wear gloves while working in our Repack Center; and dispose of and change gloves as appropriate to reduce instances of cross contamination
- Maintain social distancing (6 feet) at all times
For the health and safety of our staff and volunteers, we must ask you not to volunteer if you fall into one of these categories:
- If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days or longer, and if are still experiencing symptoms
- If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days
- Those who are currently sick
Additional volunteer opportunities will become available at the Food Bank Farm at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting the last week of June. We continue to have consistent opportunities with home delivery. Calls go out between 24 and 48 hours before the event. The same is true for our drive-up distributions. The volunteer team is happy to put you on an email list to receive those alerts as they go out.
For those interested in volunteering onsite, please visit https://www.pittsburghfoodbank.org/volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-745-7600.
Regarding our distribution methods, we are currently outlining ways we can get the most food to the most people, including phasing back into rotation our Produce to People and Green Grocer programs. We have yet to confirm a schedule for both of these programs but will share information as soon as we do.
In the meantime, those looking for food assistance still have multiple ways of accessing it. The primary resource is our network of 365 member agencies, more than 95 percent of which are fully operational. Our network of pantries accounts for 80 percent of the food we distribute annually. Other ways to receive food assistance include drive-up distributions, home delivery (Doorstep Delivery), enrolling in SNAP, and for kids—the Summer Youth Café sites. For more information on how you can get food please visit our ‘Get Help’ page or call our concierge line at 412-460-3663 ext. 655.
Thank you for your support of Greater Community Food Bank during the COVID-19 crisis. Our mission is as important now as it has ever been. As we continue to gradually phase back to full capacity, we will continue to provide updates.
President & CEO
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank