It’s a new day

It’s a new day in so many ways in our world right now. At Loudoun Hunger Relief, we are continuing to adapt to the needs of our community, the constraints of operating under CDC guidelines, and all the change that is coming each day.

Just when it feels heaviest, something always happens to lighten the load. It might be a kind note, a generous donation, or an offer of help from someone who has little themselves. This double rainbow appeared in the sky last night. We know the storm is far from over, but we are grateful to have been offered a little light in the middle of it.

Stay safe and well. And stay at home unless you need to get food or medicine.

It’s a lot….

In the last two weeks, nearly 1000 donors have provided money, food, or other material assistance to us as we geared up our operations for the need we know is to come. It’s a lot.

Today, our phones were ringing way more than usual for a Thursday morning, as many people in our area are facing their first week with no paycheck. People are worried about how they will take care of their families. It’s a lot to think and worry about.

We are humbled by the outpouring of support. We are equally humbled by the grace of those we serve. It’s a lot to take in.

The pace of change, the underlying anxiety, the generosity, the strength of spirit; it’s all a lot. We are grateful to live in such an amazing community, and grateful for the support we’re receiving. And it’s a lot!

The Six-Foot Shuffle…

We have had to make changes to our operations to comply with all CDC guidelines. We’re calling it the six-foot shuffle. We will probably have to make further adjustment as the CDC comes out with new information in the days to come, so please bear with us as we pivot. There’s plenty that has changed inside the pantry, but here’s what the public needs to know:

  1. We have changed our food donation procedures. Donors are asked to drop their donations off in a marked bin in the parking lot, or for fragile items, on a table next to the donation bin. For everyone’s safety we are maintaining six feet of distance between people. For this reason, we are currently unable to offer receipts for food donation. Staff cannot assist in unloading donor vehicles. We aren’t being rude, we’re just following the guidelines for public safety and social distancing. We’re asking donors who are unable to unload their own vehicles to please hold their donations for a happier day to come.
  2. We have suspended our volunteer program. There was no way to continue and still meet CDC distancing guidelines.
  3. We have changed our service delivery procedures. After careful consideration, we have moved to an all appointment service model effective March 23, 2020 and until further notice. Families and individuals should phone 703-777-5911 to make an appointment to pick up food.

Our hours of service have not changed, but we are asking all who need food to call to make an appointment so that we can maintain a proper number of people and safe social distancing at all times. We have asked that people arrive at their appointment times, and remain in their cars to be served.

We are minimizing person to person contact by collecting needed information from families in need of food by phone at the time they make their appointment.

We are further minimizing person to person contact by delivering pre-packed grocery orders curbside. This eliminates our ability to customize grocery orders unless there is a serious reason, such as a severe allergy.

Today’s Normal

It’s Tuesday at LHR and we’re living “today’s normal” every day. We are profoundly grateful to so many people who are helping us with food or financial donations. One donor let us know he is contributing $50 a day to LHR for every day he is forced to work from home. Many have phoned us to see what we need, and many others have sent generously from our Amazon wish list.

A typical Tuesday has appointment based service hours in the morning and again in the evening. On a typical Tuesday, we serve about 50 families total. Today, we served 75. This was not a typical Tuesday.<–!more–>

We are proud that our staff of eight people, along with help from the Loudoun County Department of Parks and Recreation personnel, has managed to keep up with the demand for emergency food. We are adhering to CDC guidelines to have no more than 10 people in any one place, and to have them at least three feet apart. This slows down our operations, but the safety of everyone is the first concern.

There is much to do to keep up with demand, and we are doing it while adding all the extra steps it takes to sanitize, keep the shelves stocked, and pack emergency orders.

We have shifted our service completely to the outdoors, and we give thanks daily for the good weather we’ve had. We have also shifted completely to pre-packed bags. This speeds service, and provides very a very similar selection of groceries to every family. Traditionally, we have packed groceries to order, honoring special requests where possible. In today’s normal, we don’t have the variety of food we normally would, and we’re doing our best to help everyone get through this crisis.

We adjust things every day to be faster, better, more efficient and more caring. When we make mistakes, and we do, we apologize, fix them and move onward.

We feel ready for tomorrow, in “today’s normal”.

LHR Partner Corner: Loudoun County Elections and Voter Registration

Fun Fact: Guess who has offices right next door to the pantry? That’s right! The Loudoun County Elections and Voter Registration Office. We asked our next door neighbor to give us the scoop on elections in Loudoun, and they were kind enough to contribute this guest blog post. If you aren’t registered for the Nov. election, get that done by Oct. 15!

The Loudoun County Office of Elections works year-round to ensure that citizens of our beautiful county have a safe and pleasurable voting experience with the utmost integrity, transparent reporting and accuracy.
Continue reading “LHR Partner Corner: Loudoun County Elections and Voter Registration”

LHR Partner Corner: Humane Society of Loudoun County

The Humane Society of Loudoun County (HSLC) is a non-profit 501(c)3 animal welfare organization, founded in 1966 to help animals in and around Loudoun County. We are run solely by volunteers, who dedicate their time and share their passion for helping animals. As a foster-based organization we do not have a shelter or physical building. The cats and dogs in our adoption program are placed in volunteer foster homes or display condos at local Petvalu stores. Continue reading “LHR Partner Corner: Humane Society of Loudoun County”