Finding food: Pantries adapt to help those in need

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Concern of COVID-19 has non-profits and food pantries changing operations in an effort to keep everyone safe while still making sure those in need are fed.

Our Lady of Lourdes offers a chance for those in need to receive food each week. It's called the hospitality kitchen. Up until this week, anyone in need could come inside the parish and enjoy a hot breakfast and then receive food items during a drive-thru pantry.

Tom Milligan, the non-profit's director of operations, said due to recommendations of social distancing, the Catholic Church is no longer offering a sit-down meal while the drive-thru pantry continues.

"It's a little disappointing that we can't provide that to our customers currently but due to the circumstances, that's the way it is," Milligan said.

For client Sharon Bertz, who is in her late 70s and on a fixed-income, the weekly food is a lifeline.

"It helps me a lot. I'm on Social Security and a fixed income and it helps me a lot with items I can't afford to buy. With my medications being so high, I need it," Bertz said.

Across town, Helping Hands of St. Louis is still serving those in need. They assist many low-income and homeless people. The non-profit is no longer offering hot meals indoors, instead all food is brown bag grab-and-go.

"We've had to modify things, change the way we make our meals. It's been more labor intensive because we don't have the volunteers," Director Sue Shrewsbery said.

Staff members are wearing gloves and in some cases masks. Tape outside on the sidewalk shows clients where to stand in an effort to practice social distancing. Hygiene and food pantry items are served one at a time and also grab-and-go.

The non-profit was also forced to stop offering showers to clients and stop accepting clothing donations for the time being, due to germs and a lack of volunteers to help process items.

The non-profit is asking for donations. If you would like to help, you can donate money or prepackaged items for lunches, like chips, juice boxes or bags.