Loaves & Fishes Update: Getting ready to re-open

Loaves & Fishes recently closed temporarily despite no known cases of Covid-19 among our staff and volunteers. We had made several changes to continue operating in the current state of emergency but eventually needed to close for a short time to refresh our volunteers, secure a new means of getting our food supply and fine-tune our drive-thru operation and safety protocols. We are now re-grouping and preparing to re-open soon.

You can help: we still need lower vulnerability volunteers, a box truck with driver once a week and financial donations.

We know our clients depend on us perhaps more than usual right now and will be opening as soon as we can.

For more details on how we got here, what’s coming, how you can help and what clients can expect when we re-open:

Loaves & Fishes, as a food pantry, is considered an essential business. As a nonprofit with a small staff and many volunteers we took responsible steps to do our best to keep clients, volunteers and staff safe from Covid-19. The big changes we made were to move to a drive-thru operation for the pantry, increase the frequency and thoroughness of cleaning the building and ask volunteers to use masks and gloves and practice good social distancing as best possible.

This worked for a while and we’re happy to report there were no known cases of Covid-19 among our staff and volunteers. We lost our volunteer truck and driver for Greater Boston Food Bank pickups, cutting off a key source of our food supply. We are blessed to have a large group of volunteers but many are in particularly vulnerable age groups. Some stopped volunteering on their own and we were worried about others. We were also worried about our staff. We decided we needed to close temporarily, to recruit less vulnerable volunteers, secure a new way to get our food supply, fine-tune our drive-thru operation and enhance existing safety protocols.

Loaves & Fishes is now regrouping and preparing to re-open. We’re building on the changes we made to make the operation as safe as possible during this crisis. Staff and volunteers are required to wear masks and gloves, the staff disinfects the building daily and the cleaning company deep cleans once a week. We are not accepting individual or Neighborhood Food Project donations for the time being to reduce risk for all concerned. Our stocking sessions and open pantry sessions are staffed with the minimum number of staff and volunteers possible to support social distancing and minimize contact.

To Donors, Volunteers and Area Businesses

We aim to re-open in the next few weeks. We still need to solve a few things that you can help us with:

Funding

Due to high client numbers prior to our temporary closure, our shelves are depleted. We are not accepting in-kind donations at this time in order to minimize exposure. As a result, financial support is key in order to allow us to restock our shelves and meet the growing need. Donate online at loavesfishespantry.org/donate-now or by mailing a check to Loaves & Fishes at P.O. Box 1, Ayer, MA 01432.

Fresh Volunteers

We need fresh volunteers in less vulnerable age groups. If you can help for up to a 3 hour shift during one or more open pantry sessions or stocking sessions each month, please email volunteer@loavesfishespantry.org to let our volunteer coordinator know of your interest. You might be asked to prepare shelf stable pre-packs, prepare protein/produce packs, assist with bringing client grocery bags to the distribution area, direct traffic, restock shelves or receive donations from our business partners.

Getting the Food Here

Do you have a box truck and an available driver for our once per week pickups at the Greater Boston Food Bank? We need 2 – 4 drivers and trucks to take turns helping us pickup 15,000 pounds of food on Monday or Tuesday morning or early afternoon. We may only need your help once or twice if we get enough trucks and drivers but it will be immensely important to our ability to help our neighbors. Contact foodcoordinator@loavesfishespantry.org if you can help.

To our clients

Thank you for your patience and understanding through this interruption in our services. We know you may need us even more during this difficult time and we will be open as soon as we can.

We are working to re-open in the next few weeks. When we do, here’s what you can expect:

  • We expect to be open twice a week initially. Schedule details will be shared in our re-opening announcement.
  • You will stay in your car until it is time to load your groceries into the car.
  • You’ll be checked in by a member of our crew who will collect basic info.
  • A number will be placed on your car windshield.
  • You will continue to drive around to the back of the building and you will load your own groceries into your car.
  • You will receive shelf-stable products, produce, protein and milk vouchers.

Watch for our re-opening announcement

Subscribe to our email list, follow us on Facebook or check back here for an upcoming announcement on when we will re-open.

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