The Food Depot’s COVID-19 updates

This page will be updated as frequently as possible with the latest information on The Food Depot’s response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

An overview of The Food Depot’s COVID-19 response as of Aug. 20, 2020:

The Food Depot has a long history of serving as a disaster relief organization and has a disaster plan in place. The focus of preparedness has been on wildfires, but The Food Depot has rapidly adapted. The food bank is positioned to serve its community and actively implementing alternative distribution strategies.

The Plan
The Food Depot’s goal is to continue providing essential hunger relief to our most vulnerable community members while minimizing opportunities for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread. The health and safety of our community are a top priority—and that includes access to food. The plan is simple:
1. The Food Depot is continuing to provide food to a network of nonprofit partners who offer hunger relief as a part of their core service. These organizations are located in Santa Fe, as well as the other eight counties served by The Food Depot. At this point, the majority of The Food Depot’s partners plan to continue distributing food. The Food Depot is in regular communication with its partners, and will activate alternate distribution plans should any partner agency need to close.
2. The Food Depot is offering drive through food pantries that are open to the public. To do this:
· The Food Depot is escalating food acquisition through our network, primarily using bulk purchase
· The Food Depot is utilizing volunteer power to build bags/boxes of nonperishable staple foods
· The Food Depot is distributing staple food bags and fresh produce to families at drive through food pantries

Increased Expenses
To date, The Food Depot has incurred relief expenses in excess of $975,000. Expenses have been related to the following:
· Food purchase, produce
· Food purchase, nonperishable staple foods
· Boxes (for food distribution)
· Bags (for food repackaging and distribution)
· Totes (for temporary food storage)
· Protective equipment (gloves, masks, sanitizing wipes and solvents)
· Temporary staff
· Truck rental (to increase food distribution capacity)
· Refrigerated trailer rental (to increase cold storage for produce)

Increased Demand
The Food Depot and its partners have observed a 30% increase in demand for hunger relief services. As an example, the number of people served by the Thursday drive through food pantry in Santa Fe was about 1,200 before the COVID-19 response began. On Thursday April 30th, 3,772 people were served.
With the support of safety nets such as enhanced unemployment, P-EBT, and maximized SNAP benefits, demand stabilized at an average of 2,800 people each Thursday. As those benefits disappear, the number of people seeking assistance has already started to rise again.
The Food Depot recognizes that people who are economically vulnerable will be dramatically affected by school and business closures. This vulnerability will persist beyond temporary closures. The Food Depot is also preparing for an increased demand for hunger relief supplies in the coming months. Feeding America projects that 1 in 4 children in New Mexico will experience hunger in 2020, the second worst rate in the country.

What Can You Do?
Donate: Cash donations enable The Food Depot to stay prepared to serve northern New Mexico. Make a donation at www.thefooddepot.org/donate-2.
Volunteer: Volunteers make hunger relief work possible. Email volunteer@thefooddepot.org to get started
Advocate: Hunger in our community is real and has only increased this year. Encourage your family and friends to support The Food Depot’s work. Ask your legislators to protect funding for food banks. Encourage your representatives to protect safety net programs that feed families, like WIC and SNAP.

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: May 20, 2020

A Heartbreaking Milestone.

Staff. Volunteers. Donors. Community Partners. We have stood together for two months now, taking action as the demand for hunger relief increased as unemployment skyrocketed. Our community, with so many members who were economically fragile to begin with, saw how quickly people were driven to ask for help. The lines for the drive through pantry told the story.

We stood together, and we took quick action. The impact we are making on our community proves that our efforts matter. It has been heartbreaking to see so many in need, and inspirational to watch our community respond.

For context, you should know that The Food Depot typically distributes 528,000 pounds of food each month. Of that 528,000 pounds: 49% is fruits & vegetables and 11% is protein items.

These are not typical times.

In April, The Food Depot distributed 1,003,962 pounds of food.

• 57% was fruits and vegetables (53% fresh produce).

• 16.4% was protein items

This was enough food for 836,635 meals.

We are here for you, northern New Mexico.

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: May 16, 2020

The drive through pantries have served 68,531 people.
In addition, we have provided grocery bags to specific senior living communities operated by the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority, other private senior living communities, health care workers at La Familia Medical Center, the United Way of Santa Fe County, and the Santa Fe Indian Center. These distributions have supported an average of 503 households per week.

Week 1: 462 households
Week 2: 570 households
Week 3: 370 households
Week 4: 401 households
Week 5: 509 households
Week 6: 444 households
Week 7: 589 households

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: April 3, 2020

The Food Depot continues to implement hunger relief operations throughout its nine-county service area. The food bank’s network of 145 partner nonprofit organizations continues to be supplied with food for distributions, direction on COVID-19 transmission prevention protocols, and sanitation supplies. Supporting the continued operation of food pantries is a top priority. The Food Depot is working closely with each organization to ensure that safety standards are upheld.

As closures have expanded and unemployment has increased, the demand on the hunger relief network has spiked. To respond to this need, The Food Depot has organized large-scale drive through food distributions in Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Counties.

The community response to the call for donations and volunteers has been incredible. As a result, The Food Depot has been able to purchase, pack, and distribute enough food to:

support food supplies for 140 hunger relief partners that serve thousands of northern New Mexicans

hold eight supplemental food distributions that served 17,395 people in two counties

distribute bags of food to eight senior living communities, serving 570 households

The Food Depot has acquired 18 truckloads of food in the past month, including nonperishable staple items and produce. At 40,000 per truck, that equates to 720,000 pounds of food. This food is being provided to hunger relief partners, or assembled into bags by volunteers and distributed directly by The Food Depot.

Volunteers—tireless, courageous, dedicated. Nearly 2,000 volunteer hours have been given to the effort of repacking and distributing food since March 16th. That’s the equivalent of 16 additional staff members working 40 hours per week.

A resident at a senior center received a bag of food provided by The Food Depot and delivered to her by the staff of the senior center. She said, “I’m very grateful for the bag of food that was left at my door this morning. Very impressive and a source of security.”

The food distributed by The Food Depot is intended to help people who are struggling financially. This may include people who were recently laid off, or who have lost their income while things are shut down. The food is not intended for people who are able to pay for their own groceries, although The Food Depot relies on the honor system to go by. We will ask people to identify their income level at our Ohkay Owingeh and Capital High distributions, just to determine which foods we can give them. No one will be turned away. We understand that many people’s financial situation has changed.

If you know someone in need, please refer them to the following:

In Santa Fe, the distributions will be as follows:

• Thursdays from 6 am until 9 am., The Food Depot parking lot, 1222 A Siler Rd. (in collaboration with Feeding Santa Fe)

• Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., The Food Depot, 1222 Siler Rd. (in collaboration with Feeding Santa Fe)

These food distributions will continue weekly until further notice.

In Rio Arriba County, The Food Depot has added the following distribution:

• Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon, Ohkay Hotel Casino parking lot

This food distribution will take place on the first and third Wednesday of each month beginning April 1, 2020.

People seeking food assistance should be prepared to provide basic information including their name, address and self-declared income (no documentation required). Times are subject to change, and food distribution will close if the food runs out before the end time.

A note about safety:

The Food Depot is committed to social distancing strategies and following procedures that are proven to prevent virus transmission. The food bank is taking the following steps to protect the community, its volunteers, and its staff:

Partner nonprofit organizations are being offered hospital grade sanitizer and instructions, as well as volunteer safety protocols

The Food Depot is sanitizing all volunteer spaces before and after each shift, and sanitizes high touch surfaces frequently throughout the day

All volunteers are screened using the NMDOH screening tool to identify exposure and risk categories

All volunteers are trained before each shift in proper handwashing and social distancing behaviors

All volunteers are provided with the appropriate supplies to maintain prevention procedures

All volunteers are supervised and supported in following prevention procedures during their shift

Food distributions are executed using a low/no-contact drive-thru approach

How can you help?

Volunteer: If you are able, volunteers are needed to pack food bags for distribution and to support the food distributions. Email to register.
Donate: If you have the resources, .
Share: about The Food Depot’s food distributions through your communication channels.

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: March 24, 2020

NEW MEXICO GAS COMPANY SUPPORTS LOCAL FOOD BANKS DONATION TO RELIEVE PRESSURE ON FOOD PANTRIES CAUSED BY CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Gas Company announced today that it is providing $150,000 to the New Mexico Association of Food Banks to support food banks and their hunger-relief networks that are under stress because of economic disruption driven by the Coronavirus public health emergency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing challenges for our state. The focus of our employees is to continue providing safe and reliable natural gas service for our customers, as well as the health and safety of our team members and the communities we serve. But we know food banks across the state have experienced fewer donations and increased demands on their services over the last week,” said Ryan Shell, President of New Mexico Gas Company. “We believe this contribution will immediately assist New Mexicans who are struggling as a result of this significant disruption in all of our lives.”

The New Mexico Association of Food Banks represents five organizations that provide food bank services across the state: Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque, The Food Depot in Santa Fe, Echo Food Bank in Farmington, The Community Pantry in Gallup, and the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico in Clovis.

“The goal of the five food banks in New Mexico is to continue providing essential hunger relief to our most vulnerable community members while minimizing opportunities for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread. The health and safety of our community are a top priority—and that includes access to food,” said Sherry Hooper, chairperson of the New Mexico Association of Food Banks. “The generosity of New Mexico Gas Company makes this goal a tangible reality. The New Mexico Association of Food Banks is incredibly grateful to New Mexico Gas Company for demonstrating such a commitment to those in need during these unprecedented times. Their philanthropic leadership is an example to all.”

The funding for New Mexico’s food banks comes from the $5 million Emera Economic Development Fund, a shareholder-supported program that is designated to promote and support economic development efforts in New Mexico. As with all community investments made by Emera and its operating companies, the contribution comes from shareholder investments and not customer rates.

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: March 24, 2020

The latest food distributions in Northern New Mexico can be found here.

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: March 20, 2020

This week, The Food Depot launched efforts to continue providing essential hunger relief to our most vulnerable community members while minimizing opportunities for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread. The health and safety of our community are a top priority—and that includes access to food.

The Food Depot, as northern New Mexico’s food bank, is in a unique position to support low income families in developing a supply of food that can sustain them for several days or weeks as this public health event evolves. The food bank believes that access to grocery items supports continued social distancing strategies and builds the capacity of struggling families to provide for themselves.

The food provided by The Food Depot and the majority of its partners in hunger relief takes the form of grocery items—nonperishable staple foods, produce, bread, and perishable items as they are available. The food bank has purchased additional food including nonperishable items and produce to ensure continued food supply. In addition, The Food Depot has hired temporary staff and rented trucks to increase distribution capacity. Expenses related to this response exceed $200,000.

A great number of local organizations are taking the lead on providing prepared meals to persons in need. Meals are necessary and reassuring to people. The Food Depot believes in the capacity of these partners to continue providing hunger relief in this manner and does not wish to duplicate those efforts.

The Food Depot’s plan is simple.

1. The Food Depot is continuing to provide food supplies to a network of partner nonprofit partners who offer hunger relief as a part of their core service. These organizations are located in Santa Fe, as well as the other eight counties served by The Food Depot. At this point, the majority of The Food Depot’s partners plan to continue distributing food. The Food Depot is in regular communication with its partners and will activate alternate distribution plans should any partner agency need to close.

2. The Food Depot is offering drive through food pantries that are open to the public. To do this:
• The Food Depot is escalating food acquisition through our network, primarily using bulk purchase
• The Food Depot is utilizing volunteer power to build bags/boxes of nonperishable staple foods
• The Food Depot is distributing staple food bags and fresh produce to families at drive through food pantries

The Food Depot has streamlined its food distribution efforts. In Santa Fe, the distributions will be as follows:

• Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon, St. John’s United Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail (in collaboration with Bag ‘n Hand Food Pantry)
• Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., The Food Depot parking lot, 1222 A Siler Rd. (in collaboration with Feeding Santa Fe)
• Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Capital High School, 4851 Paseo del Sol (in collaboration with Santa Fe Public Schools)

These food distributions will continue weekly until further notice. People seeking food assistance should be prepared to provide basic information including their name, address and self-declared income (no documentation required). Times are subject to change, and food distribution will close if the food runs out before the end time.

A note about safety:
The Food Depot is committed to social distancing strategies and following procedures that are proven to prevent virus transmission. The food bank is taking the following steps to protect the community, its volunteers, and its staff:

• Partner nonprofit organizations are being offered hospital grade sanitizer and instructions, as well as volunteer safety protocols
• The Food Depot is sanitizing all volunteer spaces before and after each shift, and sanitizes high touch surfaces frequently throughout the day
• All volunteers are screened using the NMDOH screening tool to identify exposure and risk categories
• All volunteers are trained before each shift in proper handwashing and social distancing behaviors
• All volunteers are provided with the appropriate supplies to maintain prevention procedures
• All volunteers are supervised and supported in following prevention procedures during their shift
• Food distributions are executed using a low/no-contact drive-thru approach

How can you help?
Volunteer: If you are able, volunteers are needed to pack food bags for distribution and to support the food distributions.

Donate: If you have the resources, make a financial contribution.

Share: Share information about The Food Depot’s food distributions through your communication channels.

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The Food Depot
COVID-19 Update
Agency Support/Public Food Distributions

The Food Depot has a long history of serving as a disaster relief organization and has a disaster plan in place. The focus of preparedness has been on wildfires, but The Food Depot is rapidly adapting. Distribution plans for pandemics are new to The Food Depot, but be assured that the organization is continually working to adjust to the changing environment. The food bank is positioned to serve its community and is actively preparing alternative distribution strategies, as well as acquiring food and other resources.

Yesterday, The Food Depot identified three sites in Santa Fe that would serve effectively for large scale drive through food pantries. The food bank focused on choosing sites that would best serve the community, while also preserving social distancing efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The factors that were used in selecting the sites were as follows:

• Sites that are located in the three main segments of Santa Fe
• Sites that had the infrastructure to support a safe and possible dual lane drive through pantry
• Sites that had significant indoor space to facilitate the prepacking of bags by volunteers
• Sites with which community members were already familiar

After careful consideration, The Food Depot will be implementing the following open-to-the-public, drive-through-only food distributions:

St. Johns United Methodist Church parking lot, 1200 Old Pecos Trail, enter from Cordova Rd.
*in collaboration with Bag n Hand
Tuesdays from 10:00 am until noon

1222 Siler Road, behind the Coll Green Angel Depot, enter from the NORTH entrance
*in collaboration with Feeding Santa Fe
Thursdays from 6:00 am until 9:00 am

Capital High School Student Parking Lot, enter from Paseo del Sol
*in collaboration with Santa Fe Public Schools
Saturdays from 9:00 am until 11:00 am

Please note that these food distributions will primarily be coordinated by The Food Depot, including the food distributed and the volunteer/staff teams preparing and distributing the food bags.

The Mobile Food Pantries at Zona del Sol, Sangre de Christo, and Kearney Elementary have been suspended until further notice.

During this public health crisis, our community needs us more than ever. The Food Depot will continue to support its partners in hunger relief in their mission to provide food to people in need. Please understand that during this crisis, the food bank must prioritize hunger relief efforts that provide the most impact while posing the least risk of exposure. An efficient use of resources is essential. In the days ahead, please consider the nature of your relief efforts. Please help to optimize the effectiveness of The Food Depot and the health of our community by making change as necessary. Please consider the adjustments previously recommended by Elizabeth.

We recognize that the support of volunteers is shifting, and puts many organizations at risk of closure. Similarly, the facilities of your organization may not support a safe food distribution. If you find yourself unable to serve the community at this time, we ask that you communicate your closure to Elizabeth as soon as possible. In addition, please refer your clients to one of the public distributions listed above. Flyers are available for distribution.

Together, we will meet the needs of our community. Thank you for your passion and commitment to those we serve.

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The Food Depot
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Update: March 12, 2020

The Food Depot has a long history of serving as a disaster relief organization and has a disaster plan in place. The focus of preparedness has been on wildfires, but The Food Depot is rapidly adapting. Distribution plans for pandemics are new to The Food Depot, but be assured that the organization is working diligently to get logistics in place. The food bank is positioned to serve its community and actively preparing alternative distribution strategies.

The goal is to continue providing essential hunger relief to our most vulnerable community members while minimizing opportunities for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread. The health and safety of our community are a top priority—and that includes access to food.

The Food Depot is engaging in conversations with local governmental entities, the USDA, Feeding America, school administrators, and other relief organizations to adapt service delivery plans as the response strategy evolves. The Food Depot is providing all of its hunger relief partners are being provided with hospital grade sanitation supplies and instructions about how to adapt food distribution to include social distancing strategies. The Food Depot is accessing additional food supplies and preparing bags of nonperishable food for distribution.

The Food Depot recognizes that people who are economically vulnerable will be dramatically affected by school and business closures. This vulnerability will persist beyond temporary closures. The Food Depot is also preparing for an increased demand for hunger relief supplies in the coming months.

What can you do to help?

Be prepared, but don’t panic. You can support a healthy community by taking measures to be self-sustaining. Have adequate food, water, and health supplies available in your home should closures take effect. Hoarding is unnecessary and detrimental, but adequate preparation is appropriate. Building a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit is a great place to start. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider building a larger supply of nonperishable foods and essential medications.

There are people in your community who do not have the resources to make such preparations. The Food Depot needs to be able to focus on supply resources to those people, and your preparedness makes that focus possible.

Be informed. Follow CDC and WHO recommendations for preserving public health. For local information, consider checking the NMDOH update page. Understand how the virus is transmitted. Share that information with your friends and families and encourage them to prepare appropriately.

Wash your hands.

If you have the resources, offer your financial support. The Food Depot has already brought in $70,000 in additional food resources to help ensure that children and families have enough to eat should closures be put in place. Additional food acquisition plans are in motion.

Notice to Volunteers:

We are committed to your safety and that of the people we serve. Should you continue to volunteer? Consider the following:

1. Are you feeling sick? Do you have a fever or a dry cough?

If your answer is YES, please stay home.

2. Do you identify as someone at high-risk of contracting COVID-19? (older individuals and/or those with underlying health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, or a compromised immune system)
3. Have you traveled or been in contact with anyone who has traveled to a high contamination area?
If you answered YES to either question, we strongly encourage you to stay home and suspend your volunteer activity.

If you answered yes to any of the above, please stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Food Depot is utilizing hospital-grade disinfectant solutions for cleaning all high contact surfaces daily (or more frequently). New procedures and products have been put in place and made available in an effort to limit the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). If you come in for a shift, please observe and adhere to these new procedures.

We have an obligation to serve our community. To do that, we must remain healthy.

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March 6, 2020

The Food Depot considers all volunteers one of its most precious resources. Our critical work, providing hunger relief, is simply not possible without your support. Given the elevated concern about the spread of novel coronavirus/COVID-19, we wish to share the steps we are taking to protect you and the communities we serve.

The Food Depot is monitoring information from the CDC, Department of Health, and our accrediting body, Feeding America. We are initiating conversations with local government and the school systems to inform our response plans if an outbreak were to occur locally. The Food Depot will keep its volunteers and clients informed as the situation evolves, which may include changes to volunteer schedules, food pick up, distribution.

Beyond concerns about novel coronavirus/COVID-19, it is worth stating that the flu has been prevalent in New Mexico this year. We all play a role in protecting ourselves and the vulnerable members of our community, and we can all take steps to reduce the transmission of disease.

In the spirit of community health, The Food Depot would like to share the following recommendations:

1. Wash your hands! Handwashing works best when done with soap, for a minimum of 20 seconds. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Or Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. Take care to wash your entire hand, including thumbs and the backs of your hands.
2. Hands off! Refrain from touching your face. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Find a way to greet people without shaking hands or hugging.
3. If you are ill, seek medical treatment and stay home. Please don’t hesitate to cancel a volunteer shift.
4. Clean your cell phone regularly and be mindful of where you put it. Our phones are constantly touched by unclean hands and placed on potentially contaminated surfaces. If you wash your hands, and then pick up a dirty phone, your hands are dirty again!
5. Clean! Regularly clean surfaces that are touched frequently, such as light switches, door knobs, cabinet/drawer handles, faucets, refrigerator/dishwasher handles, steering wheels.

Stay informed. Consider checking the CDC website for novel coronavirus/COVID-19 updates.

The Food Depot, in addition to being northern New Mexico’s food bank, is also a disaster relief organization. We advocate that community members build a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit. Learn how to build a kit here. You can best support your community when you are adequately prepared to care for yourself in case of an emergency. You’ve seen the news. Shelves cleared of toilet paper and bottled water. Are those the items you need most? Click the link and find out (spoiler: no).