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Kelly Liken, food systems director for The Community Market food bank, sent out a letter to supporters on Friday spelling out steps the market is taking to continue critical food distribution during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that has hit Eagle County particularly hard. Here’s that letter.
Dear Community Supporters,
At The Community Market we are closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation of COVID-19 as it has made its way into our mountain communities. As an important source of food for people vulnerable to hunger, we have every intention of continuing our mission to eliminate hunger and reduce food waste every day, and especially in times of uncertainty. As public officials urge “social distancing” and other precautionary measures, we are taking steps to ensure that we safely continue our operations as more people become vulnerable to food insecurity, while taking measures to keep our staff, volunteers and food customers healthy. For any updates or schedule changes, we will keep our Facebook page current: https://www.facebook.com/EagleValleyCommunityFoundation/
Steps we are taking: STAFF – Our staff members have paid sick leave days which we are encouraging them to take if they are not feeling well or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19. They also have been directed to not come into work if they are not feeling well and/or if a family member is ill. VOLUNTEERS – We have issued communications to our volunteers, urging them to stay home and refrain from volunteering if they are sick, are identified as high risk, or believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19. We are encouraging all healthy staff and volunteers to continue to assist with warehouse services, but take precautions recommended by the CDC such as “social distancing” (refraining from shaking hands, for example); frequent, thorough hand washing and use of hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60% or higher; and avoid touching the face and mouth area. We also suggest using bleach disinfectant (such as Clorox wipes) to clean areas such as steering wheels of cars that are frequently touched.
Regarding the concern of virus transmission through donated food: Some people may be concerned about the virus being transmitted through food. We have always been focused on safe food practices.The USDA (www.usda.gov/coronavirus) reports that there have been no cases of COVID-19 that have been proven to be transmitted through food or packaging. While there is still much that is unknown about the virus, remember that almost any food – from a grocery store, restaurant or a food delivery service – has been handled by someone, and in most cases, multiple people. We are diligently instructing our staff and volunteers to follow the same precautions that we have implemented throughout our program, following ServSafe standards in all food handling. There is nothing to suggest the risk in our food distribution system is any higher than those in other food systems. We will continue to stay in close contact with our staff and volunteers and make modifications as needed or recommended.
Now, more than ever. How we are responding to make food available to those in need: It is more important than ever to continue to distribute perfectly good food to those most in need. We are planning to modify our services to bags and boxes of food that can be distributed to customers at our neighborhood sites and outside of The Community Market warehouse site in Gypsum. We will temporarily eliminate our current food choice shopping. We will continue to be responsive to our community partners on how best to be of service as food security issues increase due to school closures or temporary suspended operations of businesses.
How you can help: The health and safety of everyone in our community, especially the most vulnerable, is our top priority, as it always has been. We are thankful for the support of all who help to make an impact so we are able to continue to feed thousands of people every week. The most amazing thing about living in our mountain communities is the way people pull together and rise to help friends and neighbors in times of trouble. Join The Community Market today in ensuring that people have the resources they need: https://eaglevalleycf.org
Caring for people in need is what we do. Caring for people’s well-being is what we do. We are all in this together.
Food Systems DirectorThe Community Market
A project of Eagle Valley Community Foundation