According to a statement released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week, "We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.” This is good news.
But, this does not mean that the Brazos Valley Food Bank (BVFB) is not implementing measures within our facility, with staff and volunteers and guests to mitigate risk for all, including our partner agencies and those they feed. We are screening visitors and volunteers about recent travels. We are emphasizing handwashing and have implemented enhanced sanitization practices. Public facing staff have been outfitted with hygiene kits. And, all staff and volunteers working food distributions and/or deliveries are now wearing disposable gloves.
BVFB is a public serving organization. When other entities closedown, which is beginning to happen, we will be relied upon to continue our critical services as best we can. In fact, we project the need for food assistance will increase. Children will potentially lose access to school meals, parents who will need to stay home with their children out of school could lose income, individuals connected to closed workplaces will temporarily lose work and therefore income. Homebound seniors will need a stockpile of food so they can self-quarantine. And, individuals with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, who are especially at risk of contracting the virus, continue to need access to healthy food to keep their underlying conditions in check.
I must admit, this is a stressful time. In addition to the rapid pace of our regular work, we are responding to questions from our partners, volunteers and donors about our response to COVID-19. We are having difficult conversations about the what ifs – maintaining adequate staffing, potential loss of volunteers, etc. And, I worry about the loss of vital monetary and food donations that we rely on at this time of year to fulfill our mission.
Luckily, you can make monetary donations online to BVFB at any time. You can also call (979-779-3663) and donate over the phone with a credit card. And, mailing a check to BVFB, PO Box 74, Bryan, Texas 77806 works great as well.
Amid your critical efforts to keep yourself, your friends and your families safe from COVID-19, please do not forget the BVFB who will be doing our best to help the most vulnerable in this area.
Theresa E. Mangapora, MSW