Over the last several weeks, as concerns over COVID-19 increased, we developed and began implementing a multi-stage plan to ensure continued delivery of essential services as this health crisis worsened. The plan began with increased prevention measures and outlined clear next steps informed by best practices and input for numerous public health entities.
We must balance two current public health crises - the public health crisis of COVID-19 and the public health crisis of food insecurity. In light of the Governor's State of Emergency, guidance from public health officials to cancel large gatherings, reduced volunteer capacity, and our commitment to providing food and keeping people healthy, I have made the decision to move to the next phase of our plan, modifying our service offerings. We are taking this proactive stance to ensure that we can continue to provide meals and groceries for the long haul, in as low-risk an environment as possible.
Effective Monday, March 16th, we are modifying our service offerings, focusing on Food & Nutrition Programs.
What will stay the same:
- We are maintaining our regular open hours (M/T/F 11-3, Th 11-7, plus 3rd Saturday of the month 9:30-11:30).
- All of our Food & Nutrition Programs will continue to operate at full capacity.
- We will continue to offer a breakfast bar and hot lunch on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, as well as dinner on Thursdays.
- Fresh Food Distribution will be open as usual.
- The Food Pantry will be open as usual. We continue to welcome new shoppers to register!
- The Resource Center (Elliot Homeless Services, SNAP applications, Health Insurance Assistance) will be open as usual.
- Laundry, lockers, shower, mail service, and phone are all still available.
What will be different:
- We are reducing group congregation by temporarily:
- Providing all food to go. All visitors are invited to come, get meals and groceries to go, and head out. We will be removing tables and chairs from the dining area.
- All of our beloved community programs (movies, music, sewing workshops, camaraderie at the lunch tables) are suspended temporarily.
- Anyone who is sick should stay home.
- If you are sick and need food, call the Amherst Survival Center and we will work with you. Possible accommodations include designating someone to pick up your lunch, fresh food distribution and food pantry pick up, or having a volunteer bring a pre-assembled box of groceries to your car.
- We will accept new Food Pantry registrations over the phone as well as in person.
- If you come to the Center visibly ill, we will respectfully ask you to leave.
- The Community Store will be temporarily closed. We will not be accepting community store donations. Community Store volunteers will be redirected to other areas.
- The Clinic will be temporarily closed. In recognition of the limitations of our set up and to protect the health of our whole community, we are asking anyone who is sick to seek treatment at alternate health locations. The clinic coordinator will continue to be available for referrals and assistance accessing services.
I do not come to this decision lightly. I love and appreciate the tremendous value that the Center offers as a gathering place, landing spot, and a place of camaraderie, resource sharing, and rejuvenation. We are considering creative ways to continue to foster community during this time of social distancing. Stay tuned.
We are committed to making sure that we are able to continue to provide food to all those who need it. We recognize that many already low wage workers are being sent home without pay. We know many families are deeply concerned about pending cuts to SNAP. We know that many who depend on food from the Center are also those most vulnerable to illness.
We are taking a proactive stance to ensure that we can continue to provide meals and groceries to all who need them for the long haul, in as low-risk an environment as possible. Thank you for your support, participation, and all you do as a member of our community.
We are open! We have food. We are here. We will be reaching out over the next weeks via email and on facebook with various asks.
Please help if you can. And, please let us know what you need.
If you are able to volunteer, we need you! Email email@example.com
In this time of social distancing, let us make sure that we remember that we are connected. Let us remember that we are in this together. Let us remember that it will be our mutual reliance that enables us to get through this. While we might not be able to gather or connect in the same ways, let's be kind. Let's help however we can.