COVID-19 Update

UPDATE 03/30/2020 (4 p.m.) 

Over the past couple of weeks, so much has changed. We are all navigating new territory. And some of that new territory means East Tennesseans visiting a food pantry for the first time in their lives.

Thanks to our donors, volunteers and partners, Second Harvest is here to alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes when you open the pantry and find nothing to make your next meal.

At the beginning the COVID-19 crisis, several Senior Outreach partners suspended operations temporarily in order to best protect the seniors they serve; however, the Senior Outreach program is recovering as agencies are becoming more comfortable with adjusting their distribution to the “knock and drop” concept. This distribution limits direct contact with the seniors served, but allows Second Harvest to continue distributing food to the senior population in East Tennessee.

More good news- Mast General Store launched “Gift Cards for Good”. This program allows customers to purchase a gift card (to be used online), and 20% of the total amount on the gift card will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

If you’ve ever wondered the impact volunteers make at Second Harvest Food Bank, on Friday and Saturday more than 1,000 Emergency Food Boxes were packed. These boxes are available for the agencies Second Harvest serves to provide shelf-stable food items to the East Tennesseans they help feed. If you are healthy and able, please consider volunteering to pack these boxes by contacting Dylan via email or by phone (865) 243-8238.

 

More Tennesseans than ever before are having to make difficult choices – which bills to pay and which things to skip. People shouldn’t be without groceries because they’re having to make hard decisions. With Second Harvest and the pantries we serve, we can meet that need. If you are in a position to help financially, please donate today. And if you are in need of food assistance, find a food pantry in your area by visiting secondharvestetn.org/find-a-food-pantry/.

If you live in Grainger County, there is a Mobile Pantry on Friday, April 3 at Canaanland/Crusade Field- across from Washburn School. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the drive-thru distribution begins at 10 a.m. It will be first come, first serve basis with the goal to feed 300 families.

If you live in Knoxville/Knox County, you are eligible to attend the Fresh Pantry THIS Saturday, April 4 from 9 a.m. to noon at Cherokee Health Systems (2018 Western Avenue in Knoxville).

UPDATE 03/27/2020 (2 p.m.) 

In one week, Second Harvest’s agencies are seeing a 100% increase in visitors. And all agencies are reporting that new visitors are the bulk of their clients now. People they have never seen are coming for food assistance, and the majority of these new visitors are young families with children. People who have never had to visit a food pantry now find themselves standing in their doors. Unemployment is on the rise, and like everyone else, we don’t know what’s to come.

Although so much is still unknown, we are so grateful to partners, supporters, corporate sponsors, volunteers and everyone in between that are stepping up to help their most vulnerable neighbors.

 

Our drivers have said they feel like “rockstars” and “superheroes” when they are out in the community because SO many people have stopped to thank them, to give them a “social distance high five” and wave and honk when they see them on the roads. It’s strange how the “darkest” times help you to see some of the brightest lights – but it happens. Thank you for encouraging our team! You have no idea the difference that makes when everything feels uncertain, scary and unknown.

 

We’d like to thank our Food Rescue partners that are giving what they can when they can. Sysco donated more than six pallets of great produce which is already being moved to agency partners.  Yassin’s also donated 20 cases of produce today. Because it is perishable, produce  cannot be put in an Emergency Food Box, but having produce available to our agencies makes a world of difference – thank you to ALL Food Rescue partners that have made this possible.

 

A new precaution Second Harvest is taking: Thermometers have been ordered, and we will be taking visitor and volunteer temperatures when they arrive in the building. All visitors and volunteers are currently required to fill out a screening questionnaire upon entry, and their temperature will be noted on the document. Any visitor or volunteer with any cold/flu symptoms or with an elevated temperature will be asked to leave. We are grateful for the support, but we want to be sure we are being responsible and can continue to show up for our clients and pantries.

 

For the foreseeable future, our greatest need will be funding. At this time we are buying more food than ever before. To donate: click HERE! To volunteer: email Dylan to sign up today. Volunteers make a significant impact with their donation of time. To find a food pantry in your county:click HERE!

 

Second Harvest is here as a resource when times are truly unpredictable. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you updated as things develop. If you can, please make a donation or volunteer your time, and keep checking this page for updates, good news, thanks and everything in between. Thank you! 

 

UPDATE 03/26/2020 (1:45 p.m.) 

With several school systems extending their school closings, we know that so many are worried about the children who receive breakfast and lunch at school and then Food for Kids on Friday afternoons.

When everything feels uncertain, it is comforting to have good news to share.

Thanks to a network of dedicated school partners committed to keeping the Food for Kids program running, the program has experienced little to no interruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the Food for Kids inventory is purchased, is in full supply (currently) at our warehouse and is ready for delivery.  Food for Kids deliveries are made to each Food for Kids school every six weeks. Therefore, our school partners already have the food they need to sustain the program, or they will soon receive the food on their regularly scheduled delivery date. For now, we expect to have the resources to continue receiving, warehousing and delivering Food for Kids food to each of our school partners. As we move forward, our focus will be on potential adjustments to our delivery/distribution model to fit the changing circumstance.

With seniors being one of the most vulnerable groups at risk for COVID-19, we know many people in our community are worried about seniors – especially seniors who already do not leave the house very often.

When everything feels unknown, it is comforting to have good news to share.

Today, in Alcoa, 227 low-income seniors safely received an Emergency Food Box from Second Harvest Food Bank.

When everyone is encouraged to stay home, so many learning the new normal of balancing and trying to figure out how to manage their time, their children’s time and being unsure of what’s to come. Anxiety and panic start to loom overhead.

When everything feels unsettling, it is comforting to have good news to share.

Tyler Roy loves to play the bagpipes. In the past couple of days, he has gone to one neighborhood in Knoxville each day and played songs in the street for people who are stuck at home.  He has a Facebook page to help raise awareness and funds for the food bank.  In a matter of a few days, he has raised $2,000 for Second Harvest. Check out WATE, WBIR and WVLT for the stories they have done about the Vol Piper.

An incredible amount of people are donating, volunteering, advocating, posting about Second Harvest Food Bank on social media, and it’s amazing – and vital right now.

In a typical month, Second Harvest distributes Emergency Food and local pantry information to (on average) 70 people who come in our doors looking for food assistance. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, at least 15 Emergency Food kits have left each day. At that rate, 450 people will seek Emergency Food from Second Harvest in a single month.

The need has grown significantly.

Since Friday, seven partner agencies have received 10,000 pounds of Emergency Food Boxes because the Food Rescue poundage has dropped significantly – 10,000 pounds of purchased food that normally wouldn’t be needed.

It is no secret that Second Harvest needs your support – whether it’s a financial donation, signing up to volunteer or simply spreading the word on our efforts with your friends. We need this community – and it needs us.

For the foreseeable future, our greatest need will be funding. At this time we are buying more food than ever before. To donate: click HERE!

To volunteer: email Dylan to sign up today. Volunteers make a significant impact with their donation of time.

To find a food pantry in your county:click HERE!

Second Harvest is here as a resource when times are truly unpredictable. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you updated as things develop. If you can, please make a donation or volunteer your time. Check this blog daily for updates. Thank you!
UPDATE 03/25/2020 (3:00 p.m.)

It has become increasingly apparent this week how the need for food assistance in East Tennessee has grown rapidly. More people have called to find a food pantry in their county than ever before, and an increasing number of people have arrived at our doors for emergency food assistance. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please visit our Pantry Locator to find a pantry nearest to you.

To continue to protect our warehouse staff, we have implemented a new policy with our agencies who arrive to the warehouse to pick up orders. All agency partners are asked to remain in their vehicles outside of the warehouse until their scheduled appointment time. This policy will lower the number of people in the warehouse at one time and will cut down interactions with staff. Our goal is to keep our staff safe and healthy to prevent disruption to food distribution to this community.

After speaking with our Food Rescue Manager, Ruth, she expressed that she has “never seen our freezer this empty.” Typically, all meat picked up by Food Rescue comes back to the warehouse to be evaluated, sorted and then made available to our agencies. With grocery stores selling out of so many products, especially meat being in high demand, the pounds picked up by food rescue have dropped significantly in the past couple of weeks. We are so grateful to our Food Rescue Partners that are doing everything they can to make any food available to us, and we are in high hopes that we will receive more meat soon. If your organization would like to donate me to the food bank, or you have a connection to someone who could help, please fill out the contact form here.

For the foreseeable future, our greatest need will be funding. At this time we are buying more food than ever before if you are in a position to help financially, you can donate to the COVID-19 response fund here. A donation of $140 can feed a family of four for two weeks. You can be confident that your donation is put to work in the best way $0.95 of every $1 donated goes directly to hunger-relief efforts. We know that times are unpredictable for so many, and we are incredibly grateful for your financial support.

Volunteers are needed to pack Emergency Food Boxes. Email Dylan to sign up today. Volunteers make a significant impact with their donation of time.
(In full compliance with the federal suggestions, volunteers will not be together in a group of more than 10. ALL volunteers will wear gloves at all times. Hand washing and sanitation stations will be in close proximity to all volunteers. All volunteers will fill out a screening questionnaire to be sure they are safe and healthy. In an abundance of caution, any volunteer with any cold/flu symptoms (including seasonal allergies) will be asked to leave. We are grateful for the support, but we want to be sure we are being responsible and can continue to show up for our clients and pantries.)
In uncertain times, food banks are on the front lines operating very much like first responders, and this response is no different. Second Harvest will remain open, will continue to distribute food and will be a resource to the 18 counties we serve. Second Harvest does not take its responsibility to East Tennesseans lightly, especially in this national emergency. We thank you for your support. 
UPDATE 03/24/2020 (12:15 p.m.)
In the past few days, we’ve had a surge in phone calls asking how someone can partner and become a distributing agency. We are humbled and overwhelmed at the amount of support we have received and are extremely grateful for the interest in joining the cause.
At this time, new pantries still have to follow all of the guidelines to become a partner. Second Harvest still has to follow all criteria set by Feeding America which includes inspections, food safety training and operating independently of Second Harvest for 6 months. You can find all the information about becoming a partner here. If any of this changes in the coming days or weeks, we will be sure to post an update. 
Second Harvest currently partners with 550+ nonprofit agencies to distribute food in 18 counties. Even if you can’t become an agency at this time, we encourage you to partner with exisiting agencies. A list of exisiting agencies can be found here.
For everyone across our 18-county service area, life looks different – and that’s an understatement. If you find yourself in a secure place financially, we are in desperate need of funds to purchase product. Our donated products have been depleted, and we are buying more food than ever before. You can donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund here. A donation of $140 can feed a family of four for two weeks. You can be confident that your donation is put to work in the best way $0.95 of every $1 donated goes directly to hunger-relief efforts.
Volunteers are needed to pack Emergency Food Boxes. We are following the CDC guidelines, and groups in one area are kept to 10 people or less. Email Dylan to sign up today.
If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please visit our Pantry Locator to find a pantry nearest to you.
Second Harvest is here as a resource when times are truly unpredictable. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you updated as things develop. If you can, please make a donation or volunteer your time. Check this blog daily for updates. Thank you!
UPDATE 03/23/2020 (12:30 p.m.)
It’s safe to say that life in just one week has changed significantly for everyone. Whether it’s the loss of a job or working remotely 100% of the time, day-to-day life has changed quickly. 
For our agencies, it means more visitors to their food pantries than ever before. Some agencies are seeing an increase of more than 60%. It is an understatement to say the need has grown rapidly and significantly. Our agency partners are ordering twice as much food as in previous times.
Our greatest need right now is funding. Donated funds equip Second Harvest to purchase more food to meet the increased need and demand. To donate now, cick HERE! A $35 donation can feed one person for 2 weeks; $140 can feed a family of four for two weeks. You can be confident that your donation is put to work in the best way – $0.95 of every $1 donated goes directly to hunger-relief efforts.
Some precautions Second Harvest Food Bank is taking to protect employees and clients:
  • All volunteer groups are being kept to 10 or less in one area. All volunteers are wearing gloves at all times and are filling out a screening questionnaire before volunteering. Any volunteer that does not appear to be in excellent health is being asked to leave. If you are healthy and would like to volunteer to pack Emergency Food Boxes, reach out to Dylan via email or by phone at (865) 243-8238.
  • Drivers are riding solo in the cab of the trucks when making deliveries. Any team member assisting with the delivery is riding in a separate vehicle. Masks and gloves are made available to drivers and staff members.
  • Staggering of staff members has been implemented. The schedules vary by department and anyone who has the ability can work remotely. Our ultimate goal is to keep our staff healthy to make sure there is little to no disruption in the distribution of food to people who are in need of our hunger-relief services at this time. 
If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance during this time, please visit our Pantry Locator.
From the bottom of our hearts, we are so grateful for ALL the support we have received so far. YOU are truly making a difference in uncertain times! We know the anxiety and stress of this pandemic can be overwhelming, but we are so thankful for the continued support of this community.
UPDATE 03/20/2020 (11 a.m.)

The COVID-19 crisis is an ever-changing situation. We are grieving for so many that are finding themselves in stressful and worrisome times. In just one week, unemployment claims have tripled in Tennessee More food is leaving the warehouse than we have ever seen before. 

A financial contribution is the most efficient and effective way to support East Tennesseans who utilize Second Harvest’s services. Second Harvest is purchasing food to replenish the warehouse to best prepare the agencies and communities we serve. With the additional purchases, our financial resources are in great need. If you find yourself in a position to contribute financially, Second Harvest, the agencies we serve and your neighbors will be extremely grateful.

Donating $140 provides a 2 week supply of Emergency Food Boxes for a family of four. A $35 donation feeds one person for 2 weeks. Visit the COVID-19 donate page to make your impact today!

If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please visit our Pantry Locator to find a pantry nearest to you.

UPDATE 03/19/2020 (12:30 p.m.)
It’s no secret that we are all navigating a situation that is unprecedented. More Tennesseans are applying for unemployment than ever before, and food is leaving our warehouse like we have never witnessed.
💛
On this first day of Spring, it’s more apparent now than ever, hunger has no season. We know that even our most loyal supporters are finding themselves in uncertain times financially.
💚
For everyone across our service area, life looks different – and that’s an understatement. If you find yourself on more solid grounds financially right now, we are in desperate need of funds to purchase product. Our donated products have been depleted, and we are buying more food than ever before.
💛
Just $140 can feed a family of four for 2 weeks. You can also be sure that your donated funds go straight to work. As always, $0.95 of every $1 donated goes directly to hunger-relief efforts. DONATE NOW!
We have gotten several questions about the Food for Kids program and where children are receiving meals that typically receive them free/reduced at school. We want to assure you that these children haven’t been forgotten. Several counties in our service area are offering grab-and-go breakfast and lunch to its students and the other counties are working on final arrangements. We are also SO proud and grateful for our Food for Kids partners. Schools, agencies, teachers, churches and community members are stepping up to continue the distribution of Food for Kids items to children who normally receive them.
UPDATE 03/18/2020 (12 p.m.)
At this time, purchasing food to build Emergency Food Boxes is the food bank’s primary focus. Donating $140 provides a 2 week supply of Emergency Food Boxes for a family of four. A $35 donation feeds one person for 2 weeks.
 
Visit the COVID-19 donate page to make your impact today!
 
From the bottom of our hearts, we are so grateful for ALL the support we have received so far. YOU are truly making a difference in uncertain times! We know the anxiety and stress of this pandemic can be overwhelming, but we are so thankful for the continued support of this community.
Volunteers are needed to pack these boxes. We are following the CDC guidelines, and groups in one area are kept to 10 people or less. Email Dylan to sign up today.
UPDATE 03/17/2020:
We want to assure you that Second Harvest is tracking updates daily. We are continuing to follow guidelines and suggestions from the Federal Government, the CDC, our national affiliate, Feeding America and local government agencies as well. Our Leadership Team and Communications employees are meeting every day to re-evaluate, create additional plans and decide how to move forward in these times that are ever-changing.
In uncertain times, food banks are on the front lines operating very much like first responders, and this response is no different. Second Harvest will remain open, will continue to distribute food and will be a resource to the 18 counties we serve. Second Harvest does not take its responsibility to East Tennesseans lightly, especially in this national emergency.
At this time our most urgent needs are:
  • Financial Donations. One $35 donation can make food security possible for one person (adult, child or senior) for two weeks. At this time, there is an increase in Second Harvest having to purchase additional product to meet the need and demand. A financial contribution is the most efficient and effective way to support East Tennesseans who utilize Second Harvest’s services. As we will continuously change our operations based on the evolution of the situation, innovative solutions will be needed. Donations can be made online now at secondharvestetn.org/covid19.
  • Volunteers: We are in urgent need of Emergency Food Box packing at the warehouse. If you are able to volunteer, please reach out to Dylan. You can also give him a call at 865-243-8238. (In full compliance with the federal suggestions, volunteers will not be together in a group of more than 10. ALL volunteers will wear gloves at all times. Hand washing and sanitation stations will be in close proximity to all volunteers. All volunteers will fill out a screening questionnaire to be sure they are safe and healthy. In an abundance of caution, any volunteer with any cold/flu symptoms (including seasonal allergies) will be asked to leave. We are grateful for the support, but we want to be sure we are being responsible and can continue to show up for our clients and pantries.)

Thankfully, only 8 pantries have made the decision to temporarily close. Several others are moving to drive-thru only models with pre-packed boxes to limit contact with others. The response from agencies and school systems has reinforced our belief that we are in the best community. Agencies are ordering twice the amount of their usual orders to accommodate meeting people’s needs for 2 weeks at a time. At this time, we are not looking for additional locations to serve as distribution centers.

Second Harvest is here as a resource when times are truly unpredictable. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you updated as things develop. If you can, please make a donation or volunteer your time. Check this blog daily for updates. Thank you!

UPDATE 03/16/2020:
News Release
03/16/2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COVID-19 Brings Uncertainty; Second Harvest Here to Respond
As more people will be in need, the food bank prepares
MARYVILLE, Tenn. – During these uncertain times our state and country face due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is taking action. First and foremost, the health and safety of Second Harvest’s employees, volunteers, visitors and East Tennesseans who visit our partners and agencies is of utmost importance and will remain a priority. Second Harvest is continuing to operate, as there will be an increased need for our services because of an influx in people in need, as well as agencies deciding to temporarily close their doors. Second Harvest Food Bank is following guidelines, updates and developments from our national affiliate, Feeding America, the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health.
At one time, Second Harvest has inventory to operate for three weeks. With increased concern and more people in need, Second Harvest’s resources will deplete faster than ever. With a donation of $35, you can feed one adult, senior or child for two weeks. A financial contribution is the most efficient and effective way to support East Tennesseans who utilize Second Harvest’s services. As we will continuously change our operations based on the evolution of the situation, innovative solutions will be needed. Donations can be made online now at secondharvestetn.org/covid19.
To address safety, sanitation and cleanliness: Second Harvest is proud of how clean the warehouse and facility are on a regular basis; however, cleaning schedules have been increased. Volunteers always wear gloves in the Clean Room, and a mandatory glove policy for all volunteers has been implemented. Volunteers and visitors are also required to fill out a screening questionnaire. Anyone with cold/flu symptoms here to volunteer will be turned away.
Partners and agencies: Second Harvest agencies received a letter March 13 detailing precautions they can take to best serve their clients. The letter also included a sign to hang for people to see as they come to the pantry to prevent the spread of any virus. They were also given the screening questionnaire Second Harvest is using in the case they decide to use something similar. In addition, they were given the COVID-19 information from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). It has also been suggested to agencies to temporarily move to drive-thru distributions to prevent contact and stay consistent with social distancing. Second Harvest’s agencies are being informed regularly; however, a large majority of Second Harvest’s agencies are operated by groups that have now been deemed vulnerable, and many are choosing to temporarily close their doors. Most importantly, Second Harvest will continue to be a safe place for people in need of food in these uncertain times. Emergency Food Boxes are always available at the warehouse for people in need.
As agencies close their doors, Second Harvest is seeking one to two central drop locations in the 18 counties it serves. These locations will serve as temporary distribution points for communities. It is suggested that groups that are NOT considered most vulnerable in these times command these distribution sites. If you have a space/business/facility that could step in as a central drop/distribution site, please fill out the form on Second Harvest’s website: https://secondharvestetn.org/contact/.
Food for Kids: As schools are urged to stay closed beyond the scheduled Spring Break, Second Harvest is aware of the increased concern for children and is also aware that an increasing number of children will be in need of Second Harvest’s assistance; however, ahead of Spring Breaks and anticipated closures, each school was provided with six weeks of inventory (shelf-stable, easy to open food items) in preparation. Second Harvest operates the Food for Kids program in 280 schools in 18 counties. As schools remain closed, Second Harvest will work with its existing school and community contacts to arrange additional food available for pick up at the warehouse or schedule a delivery if/when there is no other option.
Volunteers: The way Second Harvest utilizes volunteers will constantly evolve as the situation changes daily. Please check the COVID-19 blog (https://secondharvestetn.org/blog-post/covid-19-update/) as updates will be posted there as central drop locations are established. Please be patient as Second Harvest takes steps to best utilize volunteered time and resources.
At Second Harvest, we have no doubt that East Tennesseans are special, resilient people who always look out for their neighbors and other people in need. This situation will prove just that. Second Harvest will continue to be here as a resource when times are truly unpredictable. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you updated as things develop. As the situation evolves, the BEST place to stay up-to-date is on the COVID-19 blog.
About Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, a member of Feeding America, has worked to compassionately feed the hungry since 1982. In FY19, Second Harvest distributed 20 million pounds of food across 18 East Tennessee counties. Through programs and 550+ nonprofit partners, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee provides food to more than 143,000 children, adults and seniors each month.
###
03/13/2020:
In regards to COVID-19, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is continuing to closely monitor updates and developments, and we are following the guidance from our national affiliate, Feeding America, CDC and Tennessee Department of Health. The health and safety of Second Harvest’s employees, volunteers, visitors and East Tennesseans who visit our partners and agencies is of utmost importance and will remain a priority.
 
Operations at our warehouse are in full force, and we are taking extensive steps beyond our regular cleaning schedules to ensure cleanliness and safety during these uncertain times. Not only are we taking additional steps in regards to cleaning, we are working quickly to make plans should East Tennesseans face even more difficult times and be unable to leave their homes for an extended period of time. As the situation evolves, we need your help.
 
Volunteer: We are anticipating more people in need of our services in the coming weeks. We will need the help of volunteers to help sort donated product and possibly in the near future, prepare emergency food boxes with enough items for two weeks; however, we ask that if you are sick, have traveled to “hot spots” for the virus within the U.S. or have traveled outside of the country recently, that you do not volunteer. More info HERE!
 
Donate: A financial contribution is the most efficient and effective way to support East Tennesseans who utilize Second Harvest’s services. With just $1, Second Harvest can provide three meals. As we will continuously change our operations based on the evolution of the situation, innovative solutions will be needed. Donate HERE now!
 
We have no doubt that East Tennesseans are special, resilient people who always look out for their neighbors and other people in need. This situation will prove just that. We are East Tennessee Strong, and Second Harvest is here as a resource when times are truly unpredictable. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you updated as things develop.
COVID-19 UPDATESMORE HERE