Second Harvest Food Bank: ‘We are in crisis mode,’ amid COVID-19 concerns


ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) – As the coronavirus changes so much in our everyday lives, it’s also changing everyday operations for nonprofit organizations.

Leaders with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee say they’re meeting daily to make decisions on how to get food to the hungry.

“I mean, honest to God we are in crisis mode with things that we never anticipated even just a month ago,” said Executive Director Elaine Streno.

More: Tracking the coronavirus outbreak

Streno says Second Harvest is focusing on just two of their eight feeding programs. First is their Food for Kids program which feeds 12,000 kids in 250 schools. Right now the food bank is coordinating drop-offs with schools.

“We are going to feed these children,” said Streno.

The second program is helping partnering food pantries, a number of which are temporarily closed. Streno says Second Harvest is packing up boxes with five days worth of food for a family of four, “We are going to their [food pantry] parking lots. We are going to be distributing food out of their parking lots to prevent any kind of gathering.”

Streno says this work is overwhelming, heartbreaking and the impact of COVID-19 is huge, “Our trucks are still on the road, our Food Rescue Program that picks up food from grocery stores, well guess what? We’re not getting a lot of that food because there’s nothing to donate. So again, this is such unprecedented territory for us in how we get the food to the hungry.”

Second Harvest is doing all they can to protect their employees, volunteers and the community.

“We are a first responder. We cannot close second harvest,” added Streno.

The food bank’s warehouse has roughly six weeks of supplies, but there are concerns about what’s next.

“We have to be here in mid-April and May and we’re going to need the community’s support to do that,” explained Streno.

While the shelves are stocked, for now, Second Harvest is asking for one thing: help, so they can continue helping.

“We love this community. They’re very giving and good to us but we need them right now,” said Streno.

If you would like to give a financial donation, Second Harvest says $140 can feed a family of four for two weeks. You can donate by clicking here.

Changes have been made to how people can volunteer, groups cannot be greater than 10 people. If you would like to donate your time by packing food boxes, sign up by clicking here.

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