Updated: April 14, 2020 11:29 PM
Created: April 14, 2020 11:17 PM
LATHAM - The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has seen a huge increase in demand since the pandemic began. So much so that they've had to expand to a second location.
They’ve been dealing with volunteer shortages and space limitations over the past few weeks. Fortunately, they've found a solution that will give them a jump start on both of those issues.
The food bank will have their second location up and running next week.
Executive Director Mark Quandt said in the last month they've increased food distribution by 40 percent at the 500 food pantries they serve across 23 counties.
"A lot of people for the first time in their lives have a need for assistance because they're out of work unexpectedly,” Quandt said.
While the need has increased, social distancing rules have limited the number of volunteers allowed in their main facility on Albany-Shaker Road to just 10.
"Typically we could have 20, 30 or more volunteers on a shift at night or on weekends and we had to cut that back to 10 and in many cases weren't even able to fill those shifts because the numbers were falling off,” Quandt said.
Quandt said they started looking for a second location a few weeks ago. It wasn't long before The Rosenblum Companies offered their recently-purchased warehouse space off Route 155 in Latham, free of charge.
"We closed on this building, 6 Northway Lane, in February,” Executive Vice-President of The Rosenblum Companies Jeff Mirel said. “So the timing was auspicious."
From there, everything else fell into place. Pengate Handling Systems offered four pieces of equipment and Rosen Electric installed the chargers for them at no cost.
Now that they have the space, they need the help.
Quandt said they've implemented a few new safety measures for volunteers to comply with coronavirus recommendations.
"When volunteers come in we ask them to wash first, wash their hands,” Quandt said. “We provide gloves; we will have face masks if people want face masks. We will make sure that people are proper properly distance from each other as they work."
If you’re interested in volunteering, you can sign up on the Regional Food Band of Northeastern New York website.
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