NORTHEAST IOWA FOOD BANK RELEASES INFORMATION AND CALL-TO-ACTION SURROUNDING COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS PLAN AND CONTINUING OPERATIONS

(Waterloo, IA – March 16, 2020) The Northeast Iowa Food Bank continues to monitor the rapidly changing COVID19 crisis. We are following guidance from the CDC and local health officials to ensure the health and safety of the northeast Iowans we serve, as well the Food Bankers and volunteers who serve them, remain a priority. Operations at our Warehouse will continue, as we begin transitioning all programs and services (excluding Kid’s Café) to an ‘Emergency Box’ model, effective immediately. As evolvements develop through this transitioning period, the method of how food gets to clients may change. Doing so will allow us room to operate effectively.

In addition to the specific information on each program provided below, we ask that all visiting clients and volunteers maintain a safe distance of 6 feet between others, to ensure that we can deliver our services in the most hygienic and efficient means necessary. Any future updates will be found on both our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as our website at www.northeastiowafoodbank.org.

Clients and Agency’s Using Our Programs and Services

· Cedar Valley Food Pantry will remain open for normal hours. There will be no weekly produce pantry as of March 16th until further notice.

· Mobile Food Pantries will continue to operate during their normal schedules. Food will be distributed directly off of our trucks, to accommodate for the anticipated increased need. Visitors are reminded to bring any extra bags/boxes to carry-out the grocery items they receive.

· BackPack program and Kid’s Café program operations will continue as normal. We continue to follow the guidance of participating schools, and as the situation evolves, we will continue to provide meals and snacks as determined by each school’s preparedness plan.

· Elderly Nutrition services will continue to be delivered, with Emergency Boxes being set up at existing sites during normal operating and delivery times.

· Agencies receiving deliveries will be required to order their food through our online ordering system.

· Our onsite Agency Shopping center will be closed to walk-in agencies beginning Wednesday, March 18th, and all pick up orders will begin operating by appointment only.

Volunteers

For the rest of the week we will have open volunteer shifts (no volunteer orientation required) to help us pack BackPacks and emergency food boxes for our pantry and partner agencies. Please keep in mind that if you are a part of a vulnerable population, please stay home to avoid any risk of getting sick.

Monday | 1pm-3pm

Tuesday | 9am-11am | 1pm-3pm

Wednesday| 9am-11am |1pm-3pm

Thursday| 9am-11am |1pm-3pm

Friday| 9am-11am

We will be taking the necessary steps to ensure we spread groups out and have hand washing stations, gloves, and hand sanitizer available for those here assisting us.

If you do have free time this week, please sign-up here: www.calendly.com/neifb

OR call us at 319-235-0507, or email one one of our volunteer representatives below:

· To schedule multiple people for one of these volunteer times, contact Dan Bohnker, Group Volunteer Coordinator, at dbhonker@northeastiowafoodbank.org.

· For scheduling a volunteer time for yourself, please contact Maddie Christensen, Individual Volunteer Coordinator, at mchristensen@northeastiowafoodbank.org.

Also, we ask that any child under 14 years of age needs to be accompanied by an adult if they choose to volunteer.

Empty Bowls

We have decided to move our Empty Bowls event to a two-week, online silent auction beginning on Friday, March 27 and ending on Friday, April 10. This two-week silent auction will be critical for the Food Bank, as the Empty Bowls event typically provides funds that can supply up to 120,000 meals for those suffering from hunger in northeast Iowa. We encourage anyone to create an account on our auctioning platform by going to becoming a mobile bidder during this Empty Bowls two-week silent auction at: www.EmptyBowls.live/signup

Donations Needed

We ask that the public remembers that on top of continuing to serve those who were experiencing hunger prior to the advent of the COVID-19 outbreak, we expect to see an increased need from people who are temporarily or permanently out of work as other businesses are affected by this situation. As grocery stores and grocery producers/manufacturers struggle to meet the increased need they are seeing on the retails side, we will also soon face an anticipated 90% decrease in rescued or donated food items. All of these events point to one of the largest cost increases that we have ever seen, and now more than ever we will look to donations and fundraisers to assist us in filling that gap. To make a donation or start a Facebook fundraiser, people can visit www.northeastiowafoodbank.org or find information on our Facebook page. We would also like to remind people that our donations are being matched up to $10,000 from now throughout April.

Donate At: https://www.northeastiowafoodbank.org/covid-2020-preparedness-fund/