Feeding a growing need

Elizabeth Blanchette, communications and marketing manager at Plymouth Congregational Church, writes the following:
There are only a few food shelves in the metro area that have been able to remain open during this time of pandemic. Our own Groveland is one of those few, steadfast and committed in its work every day to ensure the people who need help the most have access to healthy and nutritious food.
Groveland Food Shelf, located within Plymouth Congregational Church, has always provided a vital service to our community. With the emergence of COVID-19 and the ever-increasing impact it has, this essential service is even more important and the volunteers within are working harder than ever to serve the most vulnerable people in our neighborhood.
According to one Pioneer Press article (*https://www.twincities.com/2020/04/07/unemployment-inminnesota-11-4-percent-of-labor-forcehas-applied-during-covid-19-crisis/), published April 7, as much as 11.4 percent of the labor force has applied for help through unemployment offices during this coronavirus crisis, and as more businesses and jobs are affected, that number is likely to increase.
Food shelves across our nation are seeing the demand for their services skyrocket. Meanwhile, operating conditions that follow recommendations from the CDC and help ensure everyone stays safe and healthy make the distribution of food even more challenging and labor intensive. Because social distancing is extremely difficult within Groveland itself, the Food Shelf has moved its operations outside. Every morning, volunteers transport available food outside and then bring all the remaining food items back inside at the end of the day.
Before the virus hit Minneapolis, Groveland Food Shelf was serving 396 visitors every week. Now it sees about 850 visitors a week—more than double. As well, it is receiving more donations than ever before.
More visitors and more incoming food mean that more volunteers are needed to help serve the growing needs of the community. This essential service is running with fewer volunteers than before, operating with a very small group of overloaded, stretched individuals.
There aren’t words to describe the amazing job this organization and these volunteers have been doing, but more help and support are needed. Volunteers are needed most urgently to help move out and set up the food in the area outside the Food Shelf before opening, as well as volunteers to help separate trash, compostable items and recyclables at the end of the day.
If you are not in an at-risk group for COVID-19 and are willing and able to help, please contact the church at ChurchInfo@plymouth.org, or Dawn Hofstrand at DawnLHofstrand@gmail.com.

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