Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

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Coronavirus

Updated: Friday, March 27

In coordination with Feeding AmericaFeeding Texas, and NETHealth, the East Texas Food Bank is actively monitoring developments related to COVID-19 (coronavirus). We are taking proactive measures to protect the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers and clients as we continue to serve our community.

Here are some proactive measures the East Texas Food Bank is taking:

  • In addition to our year-round daily cleaning measures, every 2 hours, sanitizing common surface areas including door hardware, tables, seats, etc.
  • Communicate online and to our partners the precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19
  • Continue to monitor developments with Feeding America, Feeding Texas and NETHealth
  • Communicate to volunteers and staff to stay home if sick
  • Review Pandemic Plans
  • Begin daily departmental briefings for communication updates and planning
  • Enforce year-round Volunteer Center policies, such as:
    • Volunteers wear nitrite gloves during repackaging activities
    • Enforce hand-washing procedures at clock-in, breaks and clock-out
    • Actively reject any volunteers who demonstrate flu-like symptoms
    • For the full list of volunteer guidelines, click here.

Clients Needing Food Assistance:

If you need food assistance, visit www.EastTexasFoodBank.org and click “Find Food” at the top. An interactive map will show our partners, their operating hours and contact information. In the event of any changes in our partners’ operating hours, we will update the information there.

For social distancing, we are asking clients to have only 1 representative from each household receive food from a partner agency to decrease the number of people and interactions. If possible, other family members should wait in their cars or outside away from others.

At this moment, we are working with local school district and college representatives to identify possible emergency food assistance opportunities.

To see a list of local districts providing meals to families, please click here.

In partnership with Tyler Independent School District, which is serving free curb-side meals to students until further notice, ETFB will be distributing free emergency food assistance boxes.

The emergency food boxes will be distributed by ETFB staff, with support of Mentoring Alliance volunteers. As cars arrive on-site to receive curb-side meals from select TISD schools, each household will also receive a box of non-perishable food items and (pending availability) produce items.  Boxes are for TISD households and students do not need to be present.

During March 30-April 3 , in coordination with the TISD curb-side meals, the ETFB food box distribution schedule is as follows:

  • Monday – TJ Austin from 11:00am to 1:00pm
  • Tuesday & Thursday – Griffin, Caldwell and Boulter from 11:00am to 1:00pm
  • Wednesday – Peete, Moore and Hubbard from 11:00am to 1:00pm
  • Friday – Three Lakes, Moore and Hubbard from 11:00am to 1:00pm

In partnership with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, the East Texas Food Bank will also be distributing emergency food boxes in Lufkin on the following dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, March 31st:  George H. Henderson Jr. Exposition Center (1200 Ellen Trout Drive) from 4:00pm to 7:00pm

Volunteers:

Our Volunteer Center is open and it is safe to volunteer with us.

We have implemented extended sanitation measures, social distancing during volunteer activities, we are not accepting groups of 10 or more and are turning away any volunteers who display any symptoms that they might be sick.

We received clarity from the Texas Governor’s office on the guidelines from the President and CDC to avoid social gathering of more than 10 people and food banks have been deemed as a critical infrastructure industry.

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,” according to the Texas Governor’s Office.  “The food banks are providing a truly valuable service, especially at this time, and we know it takes a force greater than 10 to ensure the food banks function. For these sorts of businesses, the requirement is to do as much work via telework as possible and then to ensure good hygiene and social distancing when workers must be present.”

For the safety of our staff and volunteers, please refrain from volunteering if you answer YES to any of the questions below:

1.     Have you, or anyone you’ve been in contact with, traveled Internationally or been on a cruise ship within the past 14 days?

2.     Are you currently experiencing any possible flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat or respiratory symptoms)?

3.     Have you been in contact with someone with Coronavirus (COVID-19) within the past 14 days?

Visit our volunteer page for more information.  **Our Volunteer Center will be closed on Saturday, March 28th**

Partner Agencies:

We are recommending that partner agencies implement similar sanitation procedures similar to ours. Please visit this link from the CDC for specific recommendations.

It is incredibly important to continue emergency food service distribution during this time. Clinics are currently asking infected patients to self-quarantine for 14 days, which is a near impossibility for food-insecure individuals and families. Emergency food resources must be made available to these families in order for the self-quarantine to be a realistic expectation.

We are asking partners to inform us beforehand if they intend on adjusting or cancelling their food distribution times/dates. This will give us a chance to communicate and help them implement potential changes to their pantry distributions that allow for less opportunity for infection to spread. There is not a “one size fits all” solution to every partner or distribution. There are, however, certain strategies to execute that could continue to meet the needs of our 1 in 5 neighbors facing hunger.

General Tips:

The following information was provided by NETHealth:

Human coronaviruses are most commonly spread through respiratory droplets. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. People at higher risk for serious complications are those with underlying health conditions and people over the age of 65. Residents are reminded to take the same measures that are recommended annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases. If you are experiencing fever, cough or difficulty breathing, have been exposed to a sick traveler from China, or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, contact your healthcare provider.

Support our work

If you would like to support the East Texas Food Bank during this time, you can contribute your time by volunteering or by donating financially. We need the whole communities support as we proactively prepare so that our children, families and seniors in need receive food regardless of whatever may come our way. Click here to give. Every $1 donated can provide up to 8 meals for our neighbors in need.

We will continue to keep our community updated through this website, the media and social media channels should any developments or changes occur in our operations or those of our partners.  This is a rapidly changing situation and we thank you for your patience and support in our mission to fight hunger and feed hope for the 1 in 5 East Texans facing hunger during this pandemic- and year round.

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