Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. As we do, we are working around the clock to strategize new and modified food distribution methods which adhere to social distancing best practices and ensure public safety.
This morning we hosted regularly scheduled Produce to People distributions in Braddock, Homewood, and New Castle with much success. We were able to distribute food to 625 households at our Braddock location, 320 households in Homewood, and 400 households in New Castle.
At all locations we implemented public health protocols to reduce the handling of food and person-to-person interaction as much as possible. We eliminated all paperwork handling by the families we served. Additionally, we followed all suggested hygiene measures, including the continuous cleaning of tables, frequently changed vinyl gloves for food handlers and work gloves for food runners. Regarding the required guideline of gatherings of no more than 250 people, we never had more than 100 people within a group at any one location at any time.
Regarding our choice to host these distributions, we made the decision after taking in to account all variables. We believed that this morning may have been our last best chance to get food to those in need in these communities before any further public gathering restrictions, mass quarantines, or other measures may be put in to place. We proceeded with an abundance of caution and took the necessary steps to protect the safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, and those we served.
Shortly after the conclusion of these events at 12:00 p.m., we learned of the first two confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 in Allegheny County. In light of this new information, we are working to expedite our planning of alternative food distributions moving forward. We are exploring how to best establish alternate methods of distribution, including increasing inventory of pre-packed food boxes, drive-through distributions, home delivery, and other innovative delivery systems that limit human contact and provide much needed food assistance in the weeks to come.
As a reminder, in following the recommendations of the CDC and local health department, the following proactive hygiene measures are strongly encouraged to help stop the virus from spreading in our community:
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Coughing or sneezing into your elbow and not your hands if you do not have a tissue available
- Frequently cleaning highly-touched surfaces with effective cleaning agents
- Staying at home if you are sick
- Observing social distancing best practices, for example- avoiding gatherings of more than 250 people
During these uncertain times, we know individuals may be experiencing fear, anxiety or stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Allegheny County has services in place for individuals to speak with someone to assist in emotional support.
- A Peer Support and Advocacy Network is available from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. by calling 1-866-661-9726
- Crisis Services available 24 hours/7 days a week by calling 1-888-796-8226
Additional information and resources on mental health care can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website. The agency’s Disaster Distress Hotline is 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. People with deafness or hearing loss can use their preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.
At this time, if you are looking to support Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, financial contributions will make the most impact. We sincerely appreciate any financial contributions and recommend donating online at pittsburghfoodbank.org. We encourage you to help us raise awareness of our ongoing services by sharing Food Bank messaging on social media, and advocating for support at the federal level.
Please continue to check back here on our website for Food Bank updates and information regarding upcoming distributions.
President & CEO
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank