(Updated 3/13/20 at 2:30PM)
Letter from MANNA’s CEO, Hannah Randall
I am writing to update you on MANNA FoodBank’s plan as it relates to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This pandemic is evolving by the hour, and I want to affirm that our top priority is the safety and well-being of our volunteers and staff, our partner programs, and of course the community we serve.
First and foremost: please take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Our personal lives, our professional lives and our world in general are stressful enough without a global health crisis, so we completely understand that this can all be quite a bit to handle at such a rapid pace. The work we all do is certainly important (especially at times like this), but we can’t do our collective work if we aren’t taking care of our own health.
While none of us know exactly what will occur over the next few weeks, we did want to share the following information with you:
- No person who has traveled internationally within the last 14 days or any person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed into any of our facilities until further notice. Please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
- There is an increasing likelihood that schools in our service area will close in the weeks ahead. If/when that happens, we can expect increased demand at our partner pantries and longer lines at our MANNA Community Market sites. In the coming days, we will be working with our partners to develop low/no contact food distributions for people experiencing a food crisis.
- MANNA is already seeing a dramatic decrease in our volunteers. We are developing plans to request lower risk volunteers like college students and others who are symptom free. For up-to-date information please visit our website: https://www.mannafoodbank.org/covid-19
- Financial donations are crucial to our ability to meet the need. To donate, please visit: https://donate.mannafoodbank.org/
These are uneasy times for all of us and for those we serve. The one thing that we do know, though, is that our community always comes together to support our neighbors in need… and this time will be no different. While we expect to experience significant financial and emotional strain in the weeks ahead, our commitment to those we serve remains strong.
We will continue to keep you posted as this crisis unfolds and as we learn more. For up-to-date information please visit our website: https://www.mannafoodbank.org/covid-19/
What We Know Now
(Updated 3/12/20 at 3:30PM) With the emergence of COVID-19 on a state, national, and global level, MANNA FoodBank staff is working with Buncombe County DHHS, Feeding the Carolinas, Feeding America, and other organizations to be prepared, and to address the impact on Western North Carolina and the thousands of residents and families we serve. We are currently following all public safety recommendations from the CDC and North Carolina Department of Human Services at our warehouse facilities in Asheville, NC in order to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, partner agencies, the people we serve, and the general public.
While we don’t currently know the long-term implications of the virus, we do know there will be economic implications.
We will continue to keep our website updated with important and relevant information as we work to address the most acute issues coming out of this situation.
How You Can Help
Currently, we know that many people might need to self-isolate, especially people who are in the high risk categories (65+ years of age and immune compromised individuals). The people we serve across WNC are already facing a daily struggle without this compounding factor, and if the many working people we support are forced to stay home, they will be in even deeper crisis.
We are asking that if people want to help, to do the following:
- Please make a financial donation to MANNA’s general food distribution work. In the event that an outbreak becomes pervasive in our area, resulting in a need to purchase additional food and/or provide food to more people due to disruptions in their work/income, we will be prepared.
- Please make healthy shelf stable food donations. We recommend easy to make meals and healthy snacks, like dried nuts and fruit, etc.