Salvation Army continues to serve
GLOVERSVILLE — As community members continue to face changes amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Salvation Army of Fulton County is continuing to provide support to those in need.
Capt. Wendy Senior, commander of the local Salvation Army, on Thursday said the agency has implemented changes to its food distribution mechanisms to keep volunteers and recipients alike safe, while ensuring the services continue operating as scheduled.
“If there are people who are in need of food please come and see us,” said Senior.
The Salvation Army located at 10 Spring St. offers a morning food pantry, evening soup kitchen and daily gleaning program that are still accessible to the public, now through a contact free process.
Since mid-March, the Salvation Army has limited building access to staff and volunteers to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone seeking to access the agency’s food programs is asked to approach the building via the ramp leading to the side entrance where volunteers will take their name and any needed information regarding the size of their family.
Recipients are then asked to approach the front porch at the main entrance where staff will place their goods for pick-up. To-date Senior said the contact-free approach has gone smoothly and most individuals accessing the programs have been practicing social distancing on their own while waiting in line by standing at least six feet apart.
“We tell people to step away from each other if they are too close,” said Senior. “For the most part people are fairly compliant.”
“Most people are coming with bandanas over their mouths, so they are already planning on that,” she added.
Inside, Senior said volunteers are taking extra precautions wearing gloves and face coverings, either cloth masks or bandanas, while they work and following social distancing guidelines. The Salvation Army has also increased the frequency of cleaning from once a day to two to three times a day while also sanitizing commonly touched areas such as doorknobs and light switches.
Senior said she has not received any complaints about the change in operations, except from those lamenting that they are no longer able to select their own items from the food pantry and gleaning program.
Still, those currently accessing the food pantry that operates on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. will be receiving more food than they would in the past, enough to feed their entire family three meals a day for five to seven days.
“We are loading them up,” said Senior. “We want to make the food last longer for them. We want them to be able to be self-sufficient for a longer time, so they don’t have to go outside to be exposed to more people. The more people go out, the more possible it is they will be exposed to the virus. We want people to be willing to stay at home as much as they can.”
The food pantry can be accessed by each household of adults once a month, and up to twice a month by families with children. Those in need of additional support can access the Salvation Army’s daily gleaning program as needed.
The gleaning program provides families a variety of fresh produce, day old baked goods and sometimes dairy products that local grocery stores are unable to sell, that are safe to eat.
“We make sure that everyone gets a little bit of everything that we have,” said Senior.
The Salvation Army’s soup kitchen also provides meals for individuals on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 4:30 p.m. currently in the form of bagged to-go meals.
In the days since restrictions closing non-essential businesses and public schools across the state took effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Senior said the Salvation Army has seen an increased need. Typically, food programs see roughly two to three new families on any given day, now Senior said programs are seeing roughly six to eight new families each day.
“These are mostly families whose children are home now during the day,” said Senior, noting that it can be difficult for some families to reach school buildings where free breakfast and lunch are available for students each weekday.
The Salvation Army has seen similar increases in the number of new families seeking support in obtaining diapers or formula. To support increased needs, Senior recently updated the Salvation Army’s Walmart Registry where community members can purchase needed items or gift cards for donation to the agency. The registry largely features formula, diapers and items for bagged lunches. Senior also added for the first time some toiletries and cleaning products that have become difficult for some families to obtain.
“The community has always been very, very gracious to us and we would just love it if we can continue to see that,” said Senior in thanks. “If anyone wants to help in any way financially or with physical goods we will gladly accept.”
In addition to the physical supports, Senior is offering emotional and spiritual support to anyone in the community by phone during the Salvation Army’s normal business hours. Amid the continuing disruptions to daily life, Senior encouraged community members to stay positive, pointing to the changes as temporary.
“This is all new and unusual and uncomfortable, because change is uncomfortable, but the Bible tells us ‘this too shall pass,'” said Senior. “We know that we will pull through.”
For more information about the Salvation Army of Fulton County, its service programs or how to donate, visit empire.salvationarmy.org/EmpireNY/hunger or call (518) 725-4119. A link to the local agency’s Walmart Registry can be found on the Salvation Army of Fulton County Facebook page.