In just eight months, a global pandemic and its economic fallout have reached our little island and completely changed the way we fulfill our mission.
If you’d asked me this time last year what our operations would look like today, I would have given you a vastly different picture than our current reality. In just eight months, a global pandemic and its economic fallout have reached our little island and completely changed the way we fulfill our mission.
Most critically, we are serving 10 times the number of people we helped last year. Most of them are people who have never needed our services before — Islanders from all income levels who have been furloughed or permanently laid off from their jobs. We see teachers, small business owners, dental assistants, real estate agents, bartenders and wait staff. Even during normal times, we serve people who are out of work temporarily and this is no exception.
When the Shelter-in-Place order was issued in March, we had to quickly move our distribution operation from our small trailer at Atlantic and Constitution to our large warehouse on Alameda Point where we could handle the increased volume and allow for social distancing. We are providing drive-through service to reduce person-to-person contact – except for sharing greetings and smiles, of course. You can see what it looks like by viewing Maurice Ramirez’ wonderful video. (The warehouse is also accessible by AC Transit’s #96 line for those who use public transportation and we offer a separate walk-up food distribution).
Out of necessity, we have suspended our “all choice” method of letting clients select what they wanted from shelves and switched to providing pre-packed bags of food to everyone. This allows us to quickly serve people and maintain social distancing among clients.
We’ve added three new sites to our grocery deliveries to senior and low-income residential facilities operated by the Alameda Housing Authority and are providing food for meals to the homeless at Mastick Senior Center, the Day Drop-in center and safe parking site, the winter warming shelter and the four monthly Dine and Connect homeless dinners.
As we settle in the “new normal,” we’re proud that the Alameda Food Bank is operating at full capacity and meeting our community’s rapidly increasing need for sustenance during this difficult time. Our community has been amazingly supportive. Since the shutdown started, we’ve been receiving donations large and small from our regular donors – and a lot of new ones. Never has our motto of “Islanders Helping Islanders” been more apt.