March 29, 2020
Dear Clients, Volunteers and Valued Members of the Community,
Let me begin this note by saying thank you. Thank you for the overwhelming outpouring of support over the past month. You have taken my breath away by your gifts, your food, your patience and your volunteerism and it is so very much appreciated. That said, I would like you to know that the Board has been meeting daily to re-assess and course correct as the situation has evolved. We initially attempted a concierge service, then moved to an outdoor delivery model and finally this past week to a drive-through scenario, all in the efforts to maintain health and safety while Helping Other People Eat.
I know that you are all cognizant of our unwavering desire to help our constituents in this precarious time. I also know that our services have never been so necessary in this time of layoffs, furloughs and school closures. Further, I know that we are here to serve our community but yet, as a leader, it is also my responsibility to keep all of our constituents safe. We have seen mounting concerns and volunteer cancellations the past few weeks and we have worked around the clock to remain open, but at this point, it is my duty to temporarily suspend operations at the Food Pantry.
The last thing I want is for this to come as a surprise and leave our clients in an untenable situation. I know that so many rely on us to provide for their families today and tomorrow – close to 20,000 individuals in calendar year 2019 alone. To that end we will remain open through Saturday, April 4th. Please know that I and the Board did not make this decision lightly. We held our weekly virtual meeting this morning and frankly, agonized over this decision. Our rationale included balancing providing food with the safety of our volunteers and clients.
While remaining open this week, we will attempt to provide for our clients and their families as best we can. We will increase the amount of food we give out, as well as include additional supplies for our clients with children who are home from school who usually get breakfast and lunch at school. In summary – we will do our best to set our clients up for success for the coming weeks. Our goal is to empty the pantry shelves this week to keep our clients fed and safe. Through April 3rd, we will remain open to receive food donations to help us fulfill this goal – we also welcome your on-line financial donations. When we reopen and begin operations again (and we will reopen), we will need to completely restock.
The Board will continue to meet daily and have our weekly board meeting virtually next week in case we again need to course correct. Please stay tuned for updates which will be shared via email, on our website and Facebook page. Please also stay well and stay safe.
Thank you and all my best,
Eileen F. Smith, M.Ed.
Haymarket Regional Food Pantry