Hundreds of Shippensburg area residents were still able to receive their weekly food distribution Tuesday thanks to faithful volunteers at Shippensburg Produce & Outreach and King’s Kettle Food Pantry. Seniors in the community are also able to receive meals for a small donation thanks to Branch Creek Place. Home Delivered Meals will still be delivered on a limited schedule.
Shippensburg Produce & Outreach changed its distribution system Tuesday afternoon to help prevent the spread of coronavirus to its clients. President Karen DeShong explained that clients usually enter the building at Katie’s Place each week to shop for what they need. This week, families were given one of everything -- a bag of dry goods, a bag of meats and eggs and a bag of produce -- and volunteers took carts full of items to clients in their vehicles, all while wearing blue disposable gloves.
“We are fortunate that we are able to do this,” volunteer Karen Strine said.
“We changed the system,” added volunteer Linda Eve. “They usually have a marketplace to pick items from. Today, we gave them one of everything to practice social distancing. If they don’t want an item, we ask that they give it to a friend. Thank goodness the weather cooperated and we have a lot of helpers.”
Tuesday, SPO’s clients received items such as Cheerios, instant mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli, carrots, grapefruit, pears, English walnuts or pecans, cabbage, dried tart cherries, split peas, chickens and frozen blueberries. Diapers are also distributed to clients the first Tuesday of every month.
SPO also partners with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the United Way of Shippensburg. The Central PA Food Bank provides the sealed Senior Boxes that are requested by some of SPO’s older clients.
Shippensburg University also donated bananas, 100 turkey hoagies and single-serve beverages that were distributed Tuesday. The university has closed its campus to students amid the outbreak of the virus, and will conduct online courses for the remainder of the spring semester, beginning March 23.
“We are in a state of flux right now, and we are trying to figure out day by day what is happening,” DeShong added. “It is important to us to continue to cater to people with food insecurities, while keeping everybody -- volunteers and clients -- safe!”
DeShong said SPO is currently serving about 150 families each week, and the number increases to about 225 when adding the numbers of site deliveries at the Episcopal Square, Shippen House, the Cottages and Roxbury Ridge.
“Our mission statement is, ‘Called by the grace of God to love one another, we help those in need by responding with food and/or services. Our organization will maintain no single church affiliation.’ We are committed to working with our partners to provide food to those in need, and we will continue to distribute from 4 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has provided us with a lot of guidelines and support through all of this.”
DeShong noted SPO has received more calls this week from those in need, and thinks it may increase in the weeks to come. SPO will continue to distribute to its clients with the modified system until further notice.
“We can’t have that close contact in confined spaces. It’s not safe for our clients or our volunteers. But, we are very passionate about what we do and we feel it is an essential service to the community,” she added.
Rhonda Wells of King’s Kettle Food Pantry on North Fayette Street said they also were fortunate to distribute food for their clients Tuesday evening. King’s Kettle distributes food to families in need in the Shippensburg Area School District the first three Tuesdays of the month.
“So everyone wasn’t crowded in the waiting room, we had people fill out paperwork outside,” she said. “Volunteers took care of the orders, then took the orders out to their vehicles. We did well. We had quite a few families.”
She said they provided gloves and masks to some volunteers to further help prevent the spread of the virus.
Wells noted King’s Kettle had a busier third week of distribution than normal this week.
“We did have some emergency situations because of people being out of work, and they knew they were going to run out of food. It was a little out of the norm,” she added. Wells said they might see a greater need next month, especially if schools are closed longer than two weeks.
“We hope the people continue to support us financially and donate food items. Because of the demand at the grocery stores, we haven’t been getting what we usually get from Weis, Giant, Walmart, Rutter’s and Sheetz. They just don’t have a surplus that they usually are able to give because they are selling out of everything. I’m sure some of the stores are also working with a skeleton crew right now.”
Wells said if it’s a relatively small donation of food, it can be left in the bin on King’s Kettle’s porch at 30 N. Fayette St. If it’s a larger donation, you can call: (717) 530-9200, to arrange an appointment for drop off or pick up.
Financial donations may be mailed to: King’s Kettle Food Pantry, P.O. Box 575, Shippensburg, Pa. 17257.
“We will be there if someone has an emergency,” Wells assured. “If there is an emergency, they just need to call us and let us know. I think it’s awesome that the school and some of the restaurants in town are giving the kids free lunches. That really helps those parents who are working and don’t have the means to feed their children during the day.”
All senior activity centers in Franklin and Cumberland counties are closed to the public until further notice.
Franklin County Senior Activity Center staff will be in contact with participants two times per week to offer available assistance and inquire about potential needs.
Staff will be updating the Senior Activity Center Hotline at: (717) 660-2678 to provide information as it becomes available.
Home Delivered Meals (HDM) consumers will continue to receive meals on Mondays and Wednesdays only, and will receive a total of 5 meals per week. Consumers receiving frozen meals bi-monthly will continue to receive their normal delivery.
Participants should continue to notify their center, and/or case aide/manager, if there are any changes of which they should be aware.
Any questions or concerns may be directed to your local senior center coordinator or the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging at: (717) 263-2153.
Branch Creek Place in Shippensburg is offering cold bagged lunches to seniors at a cost of $2 each during the coronavirus-related closures.
Branch Creek posted the following on its Facebook page this week: “As you know, the Branch Creek Place senior center is closed until further notice. Until we can open again and things get back to normal, we have come up with a way to provide a meal for you. The meal will be a cold bag lunch for a $2 voluntary donation provided by the same vendor as the hot meal. Unfortunately, hot meals are not available at this time. If you would like a meal, you must order the meal the day before by 2 p.m. by calling Director Diana Nazario at: (717) 961-1181, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a pick up process that you must adhere to. The pickup process that has been established is for your safety, as well as the safety of the senior center staff. When you arrive at the senior center parking lot to pick up your lunch, please do not get out of your car. Additionally, please note that you will NOT be permitted into the building under any circumstances. Upon arrival at the senior center, pull up to the staff member that is handing out meals in the parking lot. Roll down your back window and the staff member will place your bagged lunch on the back seat of your car. If you want a bag lunch the next day you may let the center staff member know then or you may call in and order a meal later. All meals must be ordered the day before you want to pick up the meal. You must pick up your meal between 11:30 a.m. and noon. This timeframe will be strictly enforced and no meals will be distributed before 11:30 or after noon. We’re in a situation that changes day by day, but please be assured that we will do our best to have a meal available for you as long as we possibly can. Thank you.”