DuBOIS — With many experiencing job loss or fewer hours of work due to the coronavirus outbreak, the DuBois Salvation Army has seen an increase in the number of people who need food, said captain Andrew Spooner of the local Salvation Army.
“Just this week I’ve had people come in and say, ‘I’ve been laid off or I’ve never needed help before and this is where I was told to go,’” said Spooner Thursday while distributing meals, in partnership with Operation BBQ Relief, in the parking lot of the Salvation Army located at 119 S. Jared St.
“We’re definitely seeing that there’s a need and it’s increasing,” said Spooner. “This is just to help. They can still get emergency monthly food boxes from us inside our building, but this helps just to kind of offset that, especially with kids staying home from school, parents need more food in their house. So what they normally plan, even financially, is not enough. We’re just trying to help out.”
Last week, Spooner said more than 1,000 meals were distributed thanks to Operation BBQ Relief and he expects to do the same this week. Meals will be distributed Friday (today) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or as long as supplies last.
“We give one tray per person and there’s enough for two people, but the idea is that they could eat two different nights,” said Spooner. “And then we have the MRE’s (meals ready-to-eat) that we’re handing out, also. The idea is that it should be about four meals per person, which would get them through the weekend. And then, if they still don’t have food, they can come back Monday and get another box inside our building. And then probably later in the week next week we’ll be out here again.”
Once a week, Spooner said, the local Army goes to the Altoona drop-off location to pick up the meals from Operation BBQ Relief, which was founded in May 2011 in response to a need for relief efforts in tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri.
“DiLullo Transport is donating their time and trucks to pick up our food for us and deliver it to us, which is great because otherwise we would have to keep all this frozen and I don’t have freezer space, so a shout out to them,” said Spooner.
Spooner said the Army also has an emergency disaster vehicle, a large, white van, which they have been using to travel to the area high-rises and some of the lower-income housing communities.
“In the last week, we handed out almost 400 meals just from our van,” said Spooner, noting that many senior citizens are homebound.
“My volunteers that are out right now, went out last week and they said people are just crying, and so happy that we would do this,” said Spooner. “It’s great that we have this drive-through but if they can’t drive, they’re still sitting at home without food. Senior citizens don’t want to go to the grocery store because of health concerns. So us delivering it to their doorsteps is very helpful. They’ve appreciated it. So yeah, it’s keeping us busy and keeping the community fed.”