Volunteer Patricia Adams packs meals Wednesday at the Augusta Food Bank. The nonprofit has changed admission protocol, only allowing one visitor in at a time to select food, and is preparing bags for students out of school. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

The Bread of Life Shelter and Augusta Food Bank are adjusting their programs to meet the needs of their customers during the ever-changing coronavirus outbreak.

Kim Barter, Bread of Life’s soup kitchen manager, said the kitchen’s hours had to be modified, closing on Saturdays, because volunteers were worried about contracting the virus. The soup kitchen is planning to be open from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, with the dining room closed in response to Gov. Janet Mills’s new restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people. The governor also ordered all restaurants and bars to close, except for carry-out and home delivery, beginning Wednesday night through March 31.

Barter said the kitchen is now preparing two meals for customers and handing them off through the kitchen door. She said the soup kitchen has not yet seen an influx of customers, serving about 100 a day, but is preparing for an increase.

“We know that many people who don’t struggle with food might be struggling in the next couple of weeks,” Barter said.

She said the shelter’s delivery driver has been around to pickup vital donations from area nonprofits and businesses. Barter did note that donations have “diminished” and some items, like paper towels and plastic bags, are harder to find.

“Our donations have changed,” she said. “We’ve been able to get creative and still (serve meals).”

Augusta Food Bank Director Bob Moore unpacks donated food Wednesday at the Augusta nonprofit. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Augusta Food Bank Executive Director Bob Moore said the food bank is seeing more customers after some procedural changes for pickups. He said the shelter used to help 20 people per day, with some staying in a waiting room for their appointments. The customers would then “shop” through the pantry and take what items they needed.

Now, Moore said, the food bank is serving 27 people each day — curbside — with pre-packed boxes of food. He said donations from local supermarkets have been smaller than usual, but said the pantry’s stock is “good.” He was cognizant of the strain that panic-buying and stocking up for a potential self-quarantine has put on donors, but said the shelter can always use donations.

“We seem to be OK with stock,” Moore said. “We can always use food and we can always use funds for food.”

Volunteers have assembled several meals, seen Wednesday at the Augusta Food Bank, for students out of school. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Further, Moore said the organization will supplement the Augusta school district’s breakfast and lunch pickup program by supplying “KidsPaks” that will offer two days of food, starting Thursday. Prior to the outbreak, the organization was delivering food to Cony High School that was used make about 120 “KidsPaks” then distributed to eligible students.

The KidsPaks will be available in the parking lot at 161 Mt. Vernon Ave. from 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays each week that school is not in session.

Moore said income-eligibility guidelines will be loosened for the KidsPaks. Customers, however, will be required to show proof of residency in Augusta or Manchester, and verification of the number of children aged 18 and under in one’s home.


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