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Art Gallegos with the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, stood outside Melrose Apartments in Gainesville on Thursday, March 19, to feed over 46 families.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak touched Georgia, the food bank hasn’t stopped serving the community through its outreach programs like Neighborhood Fresh and The Mobile Food Pantry.
From 10-11 a.m., Gallegos served 180 pounds of bread and 246 pounds of fresh produce out of his refrigerated trailer.
Gallegos said he coordinated with Gainesville City Schools to have the food ready when students and parents picked up their free lunches.
“As families came out for lunch, they also got fresh produce and food from us,” Gallegos said. “They were very thankful and even surprised that we were out there.”
Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, said the organization has experienced the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The organization distributes food to 72 partner agencies in five counties. Blackstock said around 80% of Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s inventory comes from the retail market including Kroger, Walmart, Publix and other stores.
“Naturally we’ve seen a decline in donations (from retail stores) in the amount of food,” Blackstock said. “We’re assured that there’s plenty of food in the warehouses, it’s just a matter of getting the food back in the stores before people raid it again.”
Blackstock said the organization is taking precautions to limit face-to-face contact. Instead of sending a usual team of people to pass out food, they only limit it to one or a few volunteers or members.
“People who are in this work with us, are folks with a servant heart, and they feel led to serve people in need, especially in a time like this,” Blackstock said.
With donations from retailers down and with the number of volunteers restricted to meet the demands of social distancing, the executive director said the Georgia Mountain Food Bank isn’t ready to increase its services.
“We don’t have anything planned for right now because we are trying to be good stewards of our resources,” Blackstock said. “Until things come back to a more stable place, we know the food is there. We are still serving our agencies.”
For those wanting to help the organization during the pandemic, Blackstock recommends making a financial donation, which gives the organization leverage to buy needed food and continue operating.gamountainfoodbank.org.