Food banks across Frederick County have continued to offer food and products to residents amid increased business closures and job loss in the wake of COVID-19.
But a projected increase in demand, and logistics of getting food to people who are in quarantine, have some concerned about how to meet an ever-important need in their community.
“We have food to share so come and have it,” said Pastor Katie Bishop, leader of the Brunswick Food Bank Leadership Team. “That’s the purpose of the food bank, is to help people who just have that need.”
The Brunswick Food Bank is one of the food banks in Frederick County affiliated with the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs and primarily serves clients from Rosemont, Knoxville and Brunswick.
Bishop said clients typically come once a month, show proof of need and receive about $200 worth of groceries. First-time clients, however, do not need to show proof of need to get food; they will receive information about getting a referral at their first visit.
The operation has had to temporarily move from a city-owned building, which is currently closed to the public, to the Steadman-Keenan American Legion Post 96 in Brunswick.
They’ve also transitioned to drive-through service and limited the number of volunteers in order to minimize exposure.
The Thurmont Food Bank has also started drive-through service to keep volunteers and clients safe while still providing food.
That food bank is a ministry of the Thurmont Ministerium, an organization of all the churches in northern Frederick County except those in Emmitsburg, which has its own.
All of the churches contribute with financial help, food drives and volunteers and the town of Thurmont also helps provide resources and assistance, said Sally Joyner Giffin, director of the Thurmont Food Bank and rector of the Harriet Chapel Episcopal church.
The operation provides about two weeks’ worth of food to clients and has shifted from allowing people to come twice a month to three times a month.
“A lot of people have grandchildren living in the home or children are home from school or people can’t go to work, and so the way that they usually get food is not open to them and so they need more food in the home,” Joyner Giffin said
At the Frederick Community Action Agency food bank, hours have been cut and food has started being handed out at the loading docks rather than in the building. The intake information required has been decreased and face-to-face interaction has been reduced.
Chris Bard, supervisor of food and nutrition services at FCAA, said the food bank serves any resident of Frederick County.
He said the food bank served 35 families Monday, and that is typically the maximum. After that, there’s no guarantee that the food bank will have what a family needs readily available, but they’ll still give what they have.
The number of available volunteers has also understandably decreased, Bard said.
The FCAA food bank is working with the United Way of Frederick County to give food to people in senior housing and the surrounding community.
But one concern is helping people — many of whom are elderly — who are staying indoors. The FCAA food bank doesn’t typically do deliveries.
“I’m trying to work to see how we can assist them,” Bard said, adding that he doesn’t want them to fall through the cracks.
One option is having a family member pick up the food, Bard said.
A concern Bishop had is that people who have never visited a food bank might put off coming because this is a situation they never expected to be in.
“I’m afraid people are going to wait too long to come and get help,” she said. “If they have a need, don’t wait until you have nothing on the shelf. Come and we can share something with you.”
Many food banks are also expecting to see an increase in the number of people they serve.
Bishop said the Brunswick Food Bank saw an increase in clients on their one service day since major restrictions have gone into effect.
“We expect that to grow exponentially in the next several weeks as people begin to see the first effects of not having a paycheck, of their jobs being terminated or furloughed,” she said.
Joyner Giffin said the number of people the Thurmont Food Bank serves is up about 40 percent.
“I give great thanks to all the volunteers who are doing this, risking their own health, and who have been consistent, many of them over years and years, in order to provide food and now they’re still coming to help in whatever way they can,” she said.
Bishop shared a similar thought.
“We have a really incredible volunteer team that works really hard to make sure that people feel welcome,” she said.
In Brunswick, Bishop said Boxcar Burgers has donated bread to the food bank and Starbucks has given all of its unopened gallons of milk.
And in Thurmont, Joyner Giffin said many organizations have reached out, including the Colorfest committee and the Girl Scouts.
“Although it’s a terrible time, it also shows the goodness in people,” she said.