Thursday, May 14, 2020

Fish & Loaves serves Romulus families during crisis

Romulus families are among the residents being helped
by Fish & Loaves with food during the ongoing
Coronaviris pandemic which has devastated the country.
Fish & Loaves, a non-profit community food pantry that helps serve the nutritional needs of seven Southeastern Michigan communities, remains open.  The agency, formed in 2008 at 25670 Northline Road, began drive-up service this month for thousands of clients.
“We can remain open because of the many passionate and committed volunteers answering each and every call to secure a basic necessity food,” said Mary Hollens, executive director of Fish & Loaves. “Fish & Loaves moved forward successfully providing drive-up only services for food distribution to our clients.”

Considering the COVID-19 virus the organization made service changes early on to close the pantry and intake and administrative offices to clients, visitors and volunteer groups and to cancel all meetings at the site.
Service hours remain 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 7 p.m. Mondays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The pantry is closed Thursdays, Saturday and Sundays.
The largest client-choice food pantry in the State of Michigan, Fish & Loaves has relied on fundraising events, donations, food drives and volunteerism throughout the year to keep shelves stocked. COVID-19 and the CDC protocols have been a tremendous challenge to pantry capacity as it has to the community.
A small contingent of volunteers continues to schedule appointments and field food requests over the phone, via email and on Fish & Loaves social media channels. Other volunteers pre-pack large grocery carts with more than 110 pounds of food, including fresh produce, for the now-drive-up-clients. Appointments are confirmed and checked off the schedule outside with the 6-foot distancing CDC recommendation in place at Fish & Loaves, Hollens said.
More than 140 senior citizens drove up to Fish & Loaves in their motor vehicles last week to receive temporary emergency food known as TEFAP, “The Emergency Food Assistance Program.” TEFAP takes place monthly throughout the year, but with COVID-19 and the challenges experienced by many senior citizens just getting into a grocery store - and the fact that seniors are in the most vulnerable population category, Hollens said, “our numbers are increasing.”
“We're looking at a record year for services for families, individuals and senior citizens,” Hollens said. “People put their trust in Fish & Loaves to be there and we are working hard to serve our mission 'Ensuring No One Goes Hungry.'”
Hollens said COVID-19 comes at a critical time for Fish & Loaves as food shelves need restocking while children are out of school. Community food options are contracting for some and the need for food-related assistance continues with no decrease in sight. 
Hollens said it usually takes more than $20,000 a month for the non-profit organization to provide food to the needy residents in the service area, which includes Romulus among several other communities. The effects of the COVID-19 virus have increased that figure dramatically. Online financial donations at make a huge difference.
Hollens said she is grateful to those that have supported the pantry throughout the 12-year history of Fish & Loaves.
Additional company and individual support at any level is welcome. For more information on these opportunities, contact Fish and Loaves at (734) 992-6284.