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Organization increases efforts to feed the community amid coronavirus outbreak

NOW: Organization increases efforts to feed the community amid coronavirus outbreak

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- As many members of the community are searching for emergency food assistance, St. Vincent de Paul is ready to meet those demands.

On Tuesday, St. Vincent de Paul served hundreds of people in the community to make sure they have the necessities to get through the COVID-19 outbreak and it is only just the beginning of their mission.

“Everyone who came today was really grateful that we are still here,” Anne Watson said, Executive Director at St. Vincent de Paul.

People usually come into the food pantry to get what they need, but amid the COVID-19 outbreak, volunteers pushed the food items off the shelves and into boxes ready to go to serve the large population of their guests that are at higher-risk in the community.

“We had to reimagine how we were going to distribute food during this time,” Watson said. “Because we felt it was really important to stay open during this time since the people we’re serving are going to have the hardest time getting what they need.”

Those boxes came stocked with non-perishable goods such as cereal, canned vegetables and pasta.

While St. Vincent de Paul received most of the items from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, they have also had to commercial shop for a lot of the non-perishables and it has not been easy.

“We’re also giving out hygiene kits in the box, which is very simple—it’s just some soap and some toilet paper,” Watson said. “You can imagine it’s been a bit of a challenge to find all of that.”

However, they are making sure the community does not go without.

Tuesday was just the first day handing out the boxes of items.

“We served about 241 people between adults and children just today and that’s a value of about $1,600 worth of food,” Watson said.

St. Vincent de Paul will continue to serve the community. If anyone is looking to get meals, all you have to do is visit the center between 10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. A photo ID is required.

“Eligibility is pretty simple as long as someone hasn’t been here within the last 30 days or had a food delivery through our network to their home in the last 30 days, they’re eligible,” Watson said.

Watson said it is a good feeling to be able to serve the community.

“This is why we exist,” Watson said. “We’re here to help people who are in crisis and this is certainly a big crisis. So, we plan to stay open as long as they let us and to be continuing to serve as long as possible.”

St. Vincent de Paul ordered nearly 500 boxes to pack full of food and it is likely they will order more, according to Watson.

Boxes will be handed out three days a week—Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

St. Vincent de Paul is accepting non-perishable food items or monetary donations. For more information, click here.

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