As the COVID-19 virus began infecting more and more people, folks who feed the hungry in the Heights, St. Anthony and Northeast reevaluated their programs and took action to slow down the disease’s spread.
Eastside Meals on Wheels, 1510 33rd Avenue NE, is still delivering meals to folks in Northeast, Southeast and St. Anthony who aren’t able to get out and about. Although they have always sterilized their kitchen with bleach, they are now sterilizing the straps of the bags used to carry meals from car to door. Volunteers have been asked to wait outside while staff members bring the bags out to them. “We’ve told our clients unwrap the food when they receive it, throw away the plastic wrap and wash their hands before eating,” said Program Director Jessie Hausman. “We’re also encouraging our clients to let the volunteers stay outside and don’t hug them!” Hausman said the agency has seen an influx of people who are off work and want to help, and has also received numerous calls from people who want to get on the program. If you’re interested in volunteering, call 612-277-2529.
Eastside Neighborhood Services, 1700 Second Street NE. “The mobile food shelf will continue to operate in most buildings, food will be prepackaged so it can be distributed directly to the rooms of people who need food.
“Our senior food shelf and Glendale food shelf currently remain open, while adjusting practices to ensure social distancing of participants who are using the food shelf. We will be exploring appointment-based usage as well as drive-up options for participants,” said spokesperson Jay Ross.
Anyone with questions about the current operations of ESNS food shelves should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-781-6011.
“We also need volunteer help at Senior Food Shelf,” said Ross. Hours are between 8:30am – 9:30 (sorting donations) 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.; 12-3 p.m. (boxing food and assisting clients). Volunteers can call or email Gina, email@example.com) or Rob, 612-787-4111, 651-239-0844, or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Salvation Army, 2727 Central Avenue NE, has made a couple of procedural changes. Instead of allowing people to shop the food shelf, they now hand them a list and a staffer or volunteer picks up the groceries, and brings them a box. As always IDs are required. Hours are Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; however, they close from noon-1 p.m. for lunch. Call 612-789-1512 for an appointment.
Southern Anoka County Assistance, 627 38th Ave NE, Columbia Heights. As new cases of coronavirus were announced, Southern Anoka County (SACA), announced changes in its food shelf operations. “Clients will be met at the door, where our staff will provide them with a shopping list for SACA Delivers, which is our meal delivery service for homebound seniors. We will fill the order and bring it out to the client while they wait,” said Elaine Walker, Co-Director of SACA. “Our SACA Delivers volunteers will be leaving groceries outside the doors of our mobility-impaired clients’ homes, instead of delivering them to their kitchen counters.”
SACA’s annual “Hops for Hunger” fundraiser has been postponed until further notice. SACA will still accept monetary donations. You can donate online at https://www.sacafoodshelf.org/get-in-touch/, or send a check to the address above.
Rescue Now’s Good Works Food Shelf, 697 13th Avenue NE, will remain open. Hours are Tuesdays: 11 a.m.-1p.m., Fridays: 4–5:30 p.m. For the health and safety of their volunteers, and other clients, if you are sick (with any illness, even cold or flu) please do not visit the food shelf. Send a family member, a friend or a neighbor to get food on your behalf. If you have absolutely no one to help you, call them at 612-788-4829 (during open hours) and they will seek other options. To reduce close contact between people in the waiting area, doors won’t open until the posted times. To ensure you are served in the order you arrive, they will distribute number cards every 20 minutes starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, and 3 p.m. on Fridays. Clients will be allowed into the Food Shelf to be served in groups of ten. They ask that everyone remain in their vehicles until their number is called. If you need assistance before they open, ring the bell.
Free community meals and Lenten meals
Community United Methodist Church, 950 Gould Avenue, Columbia Heights, will not serve its March 23 community meal. Pastor Linda McCullough said the church would re-evaluate the situation in April.
Grace Lutheran Church, 1500 Sixth Street NE, cancelled its March meal. Pastor Emmy Kegler said the Little Kitchen Food Shelf will temporarily switch to a pickup-only system of distribution, consisting of pre-packed bags of essential food staples, personal items, and fresh produce for registered users. The situation will be revisited after March 30.
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, 1509 27th Avenue NE, will not hold its community meal on March 28. Community meal coordinator Lynn Lurvey wrote, “Our church building is temporarily closed. We will resume our community meals when it is safe to gather in our church.”
Holy Cross Catholic Church, 1621 University Avenue NE, has postponed its popular Friday fish fries until further notice.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 4030 Jackson Street NE, Columbia Heights, has cancelled all its Lenten meals and fish fries.
Northeast United Methodist Church, 2510 Cleveland Street NE, served its community meal on March 14 by readying hot to-go meals for its guests. It plans to follow the same procedure for its April 11 meal.
St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, 825 51st Ave NE, Columbia Heights, is operating on a week-by-week basis. “We are asking people to watch our website for information. We have not cancelled our dinner at this point, but will keep our communication sources open. We will also post on our front sign whether the dinner will be held or not,” said Laura Fix, the church’s communication coordinator. https://sttimothys-elca.org/