BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Food Pantry will continue to provide food to its clients as usual but it has made some changes to its operations because of the coronavirus shutting down businesses.
Joe Snell, assistant director of the Brookville Food Pantry, says they are still open each Thursday as usual but have taken steps to lower the risk of people coming into contact with each other.
While clients used to gather in one room to fill out forms on what they needed –pasta, soup, etc. – now only one individual at a time will be allowed into this area. All others must wait in their vehicles.
“They come in for maybe five minutes at most, one person at a time. That’s how were handling it,” Snell said, adding that during the pantry’s Board of directors meeting Tuesday they had laid out “laid this plan out” and made some modifications. Originally, they were going to have two or three people at a time come in, thereby staying under the 10 person limit but after the meeting, he said it was decided to just go down to one family at a time to come in to the physical building. “The room usually has 75-80 chairs and a bunch of tables. We’ve moved everything out of there. So now we have to sanitize four or five tables.”
When the person comes in they sanitize their hands, so the room does not need to be sanitized between each person.
“They get a number outside and when they call their number they come in and the next person comes up to the door. When the first person comes out the next one goes in. They stay six to eight feet away from the people in the office,” Snell said. “And they just talk back and forth. They don’t even open the door. We have somebody open it for them so they don’t touch anything.
Normally, the clients would have to sign a pad, Snell says, Erie has given permission for the office volunteers to sign the client’s name and initial it afterwards.
The pantry is part of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania, which is located in Erie. PA.
The pantry puts out a menu every week and it depends on the number of people in the family as to how much a client receives. So a family of four will receive a different amount from a family of six. “Of course, it goes by what we have is what they get,” Snell said, adding that the pantry is pretty well stocked with another truck of food arriving Wednesday from Erie.
Last Thursday, he noted, that someone put out word that clients were supposed to call before coming out to see if the pantry was open. That is not needed, Snell said. They were down 20-25 people Thursday and believe those people tried calling and when no one was able to answer likely thought the food pantry was closed. The pantry is not closed and will be open this coming Thursday during its usual times from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. They are currently serving 155-170 families or close to 500 people. The number served varies from week to week.
“During the holiday we get over 600 people,” Brookville Food Pantry Director Ed Pearce said.
Snell said they have been told by the county commissioners that there is the possibility that those numbers could increase. “They’re looking for that to happen,” he said. “We aren’t changing anything until we start seeing numbers increasing. If they do, then we’ll compensate for it.
“We’ve got roughly two months of food sitting back here now and probably another two months coming on a truck for everybody we have,” he said. “So if it were to double, we still have two months of food. And we can order every month. After I talked to Erie the other day, they thought we could probably order every two weeks if we need to.”
Snell also noted that the Erie warehouse is still getting trucks arriving there with supplies. “But in order to increase what we have here, we’d have to see the numbers increasing before we order and do that.”
Even if the numbers increased the hours of operation would not change. If it takes until 12:30 or 12:45 p.m. then that’s what it will take, Pearce noted.
Another change has been that normally they would ask the clients to bring their own boxes back. “We’re not doing that because we don’t want to mess with possible contamination,” Snell said, adding that that may pose a problem down the road because they are not sure where they will find 150 boxes each week. For now they have enough boxes for this coming Thursday. Snell said they’ve reached out to Erie but haven’t heard yet whether it will be able to send 60 empty boxes down to them or not.
The modifications worked this past Thursday and everything ran smoothly and it is expected that this Thursday will be no different.