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SAFB continues to serve amid pandemic

Despite an “uptick” in demand for food amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Selma Area Food Bank (SAFB) Executive Director Jeff Harrison says the organization is still operating smoothly and feeding those in need.

“We’ve had to make some modifications to our schedule and some modifications to our procedures,” said Harrison. “We’ve eliminated person-to-person contact as best we can.”

According to Harrison, agencies are no longer allowed inside the Food Bank. Instead, the order is called in ahead of time and SAFB volunteers then assemble the orders, place them on pallets, shrink wrap them, transport them out to the parking lot and finally load them up into the agency’s vehicle where the food is then taken to those that need it.

In addition to the streamlined process of processing orders, the Food Bank is providing volunteers with gloves and masks and performing regular disinfecting and deep cleaning to ensure safety.

Harrison said the added safety precautions have actually made distributing food more efficient, though the human interaction so many volunteers enjoy has been lost.

“Everything is running much smoother than we envisioned,” said Harrison, “We’re proud to be here and still be able to serve during this outbreak.”

Harrison said there were no foreseeable problems in the future to hinder the SAFB from acquiring food to provide to the agencies it supplies, the only way a serious problem would occur is if the transportation of food were restricted.

“We’re hopeful that won’t become an issue,” said Harrison.

Amid the outbreak, Harrison said many local businesses have made contributions to the SAFB.

“We’ve had some local businesses that have stepped up and sent us some contributions and we’re certainly grateful for that,” he said. “It means a great deal… There are a lot of good people in this community that understand how valuable the food bank is, especially now, and their efforts and thoughts have turned to us. We’re getting donations on a daily basis that we normally wouldn’t see and we’re grateful for that. It all adds up. Weather it’s $1 or $1,000 or $10,000 – it doesn’t matter the size – just that they’re willing to help out and check on us. It’s very rewarding to live in a community that understands the importance of the food bank.”

Harrison expects national funds to benefit the SAFB as well in the coming weeks and months.

The SAFB is affiliated with Feeding America, which just received a $100 million donation from Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire CEO of online retailer Amazon.

“That money will filter down through the chain and we’ll receive the benefit from that,” said Harrison.

Even amid the ongoing pandemic, the SAFB is still moving along with their move to a larger facility at Craig Airforce Base.

“We’ve been taking one step at a time and, so far, everything has gone really well,” said Harrison.

According the SAFB Executive Director, workers are still providing their services to the building on a regular schedule.

“We’re slowly but surely getting there. The virus hasn’t impeded that at all,” said Harrison. “We’ll be out there soon. Hopefully, after we’ve flattened the curve and settled back down, that will be a great way to celebrate the end of the pandemic – with a grand opening of the Food Bank and we’ll be able to thank everyone for their help and allowing us to do more.”