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COVID-19 alters food distribution at Tomah food pantry

COVID-19 alters food distribution at Tomah food pantry

COVID-19 has brought adjustments in the way food is distributed at Tomah’s Neighbor for Neighbor Food Pantry.

Doug Staller, the pantry’s executive director, said Tuesday that the building has been closed to the public. Clients are now asked to wait in the parking lot as their items are delivered by cart.

“I’m the only person who is working directly with clients,” Staller said. “I’m wearing a mask and gloves.”

Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, clients entered the building and had access to a “client’s choice” area. Now, clients are given pre-loaded packages.

Staller said the pantry already has experience with parking lot distribution. The same process was used in 2018 when the building was closed during the installation of a new freezer.

“It’s faster for us. We’re able to get people and in and out,” Staller said. “What you give up is the whole client-choice thing. Most clients are cooperative, but you always have those one or two.”

The pantry has set up a “no thank you” cart, but Staller said few items are returned. He said the cart is normally less than half-full at the end of the day.

When asked if the pantry is experiencing an increase in clients over the past two weeks, he replied, “surprisingly not.” He also said donations have held steady.

Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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