In this time of calamity!
Like everyone else, we are staying in place with as little physical contact with others as possible. It was kind of surreal when we arrived home from our vacation and found ourselves face-to-face with having to make some very serious decisions concerning the LittleStore and its employees, as well as our own living arrangements and our family’s well-being.
We decided to close down all operations, except the food distribution program, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. We did close down the pickups at the area supermarkets, but decided that we needed to keep our food pantry operation up and running. We decided that we would deliver food on an emergency basis to people who were calling into our office or into Saint Paul’s looking for emergency food and we would deliver the food to their house.
So, on Monday, March 16, Kathy and I were in the office at 7:30 A.M. trying to come up with a procedure to handle the food deliveries. The very first thing we did was put signs at the store and Saint Paul Food Pantry letting people know we would be closed for the duration, but we would fulfill any requests for food via delivery.
On Tuesday, I started delivering food donations. It started slowly, three or four deliveries per day. Then it started to increase, ten, fifteen, then twenty! By March 30th we were getting 50 phone calls each day for food! We were being buried by appeals for help. Knowing that we could not possibly provide that much food, we decided that we would need to apply some restrictions to whom we could supply food. The gating factor was, how much food would we be receiving from the Worcester County Food Bank?
I made a call to our support person at the Food Bank to determine what they thought the level of supply of food would be. They assured me that I could expect at least what we had been receiving on a monthly basis for the past year and there is a possibility of more because they were going to an appointment basis for all pickups and he had put St. Paul’s down for every Friday at 1:00 P.M. This was good news because it meant that I could, with some confidence, supply up to 300 families with food per month and possibly more if the extra food came to fruition.
With this in mind we set the following criteria:
Anyone 60 years or more
Anyone living in a shelter
Anyone on DTA (Department of transitional assistance)
Anyone living in zip code 01608, 01609, and 01610
With these criteria in place, we are now doing ten to twenty families per day and the food supply seems to be holding up. Throughout this crisis, as always we rely on the dedication of our volunteers and donors in order to serve the people who are the first to be left out. The Urban Missionaries are not going anywhere, and together we will continue to serve however we can, whenever we can!