General Updates

UPDATED 5/4: (COVID-19) Communication

Mar 09, 2020

5.4.2020 Update

Dear Network Partners,

Thank you for your incredible work feeding our community. Together, we have distributed more food and fed more people than at any point in the Foodbank’s history. You continue to show courage and dedication to this cause, and we could not be more grateful to partner with you.  

Included in this update is information about grant funding for partners, the TEFAP waiver, site visits, CFAP (a new federal food program), and general reminders.  

1. Free food update 

In response to the unprecedented demand for food in the region due to the COVID-19 crisis, many funders have stepped forward to help the Foodbank with our collective hunger-relief efforts. In April 2020, more than 3 million pounds of food were distributed to our hunger-relief partners at no cost. The Foodbank has more free food currently on the menu than ever—and more is on the way!

When searching the Foodbank menu, click “free food only” in the E-Ordering system to show all free food available to your program.

2. TEFAP Waiver
Ohio’s food banks and hunger-relief network received an important waiver of the TEFAP intake process and income guidelines for the month of April, and this waiver has been extended for the month of May.

As part of this waiver, we are required to provide weekly statistics to ODJFS of the number of households being served in our network. Please use this link to submit the weekly report required by the state as part of this waiver. Reports should be submitted for the previous week no later than 9am every Monday. A reminder email will be sent every Friday.  

Please note, this weekly report is separate and in addition to your monthly report.

While the waiver provides the option to only collect the number of households and number of individuals, many of our partners elected to continue using PantryTrak to continue receiving quality data. This data allows us to better reflect the increase of need in our community.  If your program would like to resume use of PantryTrak, we encourage you to do so. You can find instructions for using the COVID-19 resources in PantryTrak at this link.  However, you are not required to do so for the month of May. We anticipate that the TEFAP intake process (via PantryTrak or paper form) will resume in June. 

3. Site Visits 
With the gradual re-opening of the state, Foodbank staff will resume scheduling site visits with our network partners. Foodbank staff will complete part of the documentation for the visit via a scheduled phone call and the remainder during a scheduled in-person visit to minimize contact. Foodbank staff will follow local health guidelines by wearing a face covering and will maintain social distance during the site visit. Further, your program representatives will not be asked to sign the site visit form.  
If you have questions about this new site visit process, please contact Katie Carver Reed at kcarver@acrfb.org.  

4. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 
The federal government recently provided increased funding for TEFAP and a new food program called CFAP, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The Foodbank has been gathering information and conducting outreach to manufacturers to ensure our hunger-relief network benefits from this new food stream. All items received through CFAP will be distributed to our hunger-relief network at no cost. CFAP items will be on the menu under a new section and should start arriving in May.  

5. General Reminders 

  • If your organization temporarily closes your food program or makes changes to the days and times of distribution, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org.     
  • We ask our network partners to continue emphasizing to your staff and volunteers to maintain personal hygiene practices and ensure compliance with statewide health policies. 
  • Please be mindful of social distancing when picking up orders at the Foodbank. Maintain a distance of 6 feet from Foodbank staff, National Guard members, and other partners picking up their orders.
  • Best Practices:
    • If your staff or volunteers are ill or exhibiting symptoms, do not send them to pick-up your order at the Foodbank and do not allow them to help at your program 
    • Keep your hands clean by regularly washing them in hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.  This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hand, or using the restroom. 
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick. 
    • Stay home from work and/or your hunger-relief program if you have flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever. 
    • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. 
    • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system. 
    • Use sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces clean that multiple people will touch, like tables, counters, phones, pens, etc. 

As always, thank you for your continued commitment to serve our community.

4.3.2020 Update

Dear Network Partners, 

First, we love you! Your response has been beyond inspiring and it is our honor to do this important work with you. In the month of March, our hunger-relief network received more than 3.6 million pounds of food to give to families in need. We are grateful to the many staff and volunteers in the community finding new ways to serve their neighbors and meet the growing need for food.

Please continue reading for important updates:

1. Changes to Order Pick-up
In addition to providing guidance (see prior updates) to maintain social distancing at your sites, we are also making changes at the Foodbank to better ensure the safety of our network partners and our staff. Limiting the number of people on the dock at one time is essential to keeping you all safe and ensuring proper distance apart. The changes outlined below are to ensure this level of safety. Please share with any staff or volunteers that may place orders or come to the Foodbank to pick-up. 

Effective Monday, April 6:
- Please call the Distribution Office (330.777.7583) upon arrival for their appointment and remain in your vehicle
- The Distribution Office will direct you to your assigned bay space
- Because of high levels of interaction and the difficulty to maintain social distancing, MarketPlace has transitioned to only repacked boxes during this time. MarketPlace will be repacked (daily) into assorted bakery, beverage and produce banana boxes and offered at time of pickup as an add-on over the phone (boxes or pallets)
- Foodbank Staff/ National Guard will load your vehicle if pallet loading is possible
- If self-loading is required, pallets will be moved as close as possible to the threshold of the Garage Door for loading
- You will not need to go to the Distribution Office window to pick up your Order Packing Slip. After the order has been loaded, the Distribution Office will sign the Order Packing Slip as “COVID-19” and date
- If order discrepancies are discovered on-site, call the Distribution Office to discuss. The Foodbank will be quick to make it right.  

MarketPlace Only appointments are still allowed, but will follow a similar process.
- Please call the Distribution Office (330.777.7583) upon arrival for your appointment and remain in your vehicle
- Distribution Office will ask how many assorted boxes (bakery, beverage, produce) you would like to order and order will be placed
- MarketPlace boxes will be brought to the threshold of the Garage Door for loading
- You will not need to go to the Distribution Office window to pick up your Order Packing Slip. After the order has been loaded, the Distribution Office will sign the Order Packing Slip as “COVID-19” and date

2. TEFAP Waiver Update
Foodbanks across the country continue to advocate for a waiver to ensure safe social distancing while still distributing food to neighbors in need. Click here to read an article from the Washington Post featuring the Director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. 
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has submitted a request to the United States Department of Agriculture to get a waiver of the intake process. We are hopeful that this request will be granted (as it has been in other states) and will let you know as soon as we receive an answer. Until then, please refer to prior updates with guidance on how to complete intake during this time. 

3. Best Practices
As COVID-19 escalates in our community, we do need to make sure you are communicating effectively with the Foodbank.  If your organization cancels a pantry distribution, hot meal or other food assistance program; or if your church or non-profit organization closes temporarily due to COVID-19, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org.    
We ask our network partners to continue emphasizing to your staff and volunteers to maintain personal hygiene practices which should be in place every day at any food distribution facility:  

Steps YOU can take
- If your staff or volunteers are ill or exhibiting symptoms, do not send them to pick-up your order at the Foodbank and do not allow them to help at your program
- Keep your hands clean by regularly washing them in hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.  This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hand, or using the restroom. 
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
- Avoid contact with people who are sick. 
- Stay home from work and/or your hunger-relief program if you have flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever. 
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. 
- Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system. 
- Use sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces clean that multiple people will touch, like tables, counters, phones, pens, etc.

As always, thank you for your continued commitment to serve our community.

3.31.2020 Update

Dear Network Partner,

The Foodbank and our hunger-relief network are doing more than ever to meet the increasing demand for food assistance in our region. Thank you for continuing to respond to changes, keep open communication, and find new ways to serve the community. 

Included in this update: changes to the income eligibility guidelines for TEFAP, updates to PantryTrak, temporary changes to our warehouse policies, and product availability. 

1. Changes to the Household Income Eligibility Guidelines
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has temporarily increased the income threshold for receiving TEFAP commodities to 230% of the Federal Poverty Level. Please update your posted household eligibility guidelines to reflect this change. 

HOUSEHOLD ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES - 230% FPL

If using paper TEFAP forms, please use the form below for now. 

TEFAP FORM - 230% FPL

If using PantryTrak, this change will be automatically updated in the system. 

We continue to advocate for a complete waiver of the TEFAP registration process. We have not received this waiver yet, so please continue to follow our guidance to receive verbal confirmation from the recipient and either sign their paper TEFAP form with “COVID-19 2020” or use the “serve this customer” button in PantryTrak. 

2. PantryTrak Mobile version now available
PantryTrak has been updated to include a mobile friendly option. This option is easier to use on a cell phone or tablet device. This option is now available on all PantryTrak accounts for all active events. Please review the link below for instructions on how to use this tool in PantryTrak for registration. 

PantryTrak Mobile Instructions

3. Temporary Changes in Warehouse Policies
If your program volunteers or staff are exhibiting symptoms, please do not send them to the Foodbank to pick up their order. To further promote health and safety during order pick-up, we are making slight changes in the MarketPlace and in our loading area. 

Checking In
When checking in, please maintain distance between the ordering window and the staff. Stantions have been placed outside the window to encourage this distance. Please do not open the window – the staff will open the window when they are ready to serve you. 

Loading
The order desk will stagger vehicles in the dock and in the parking lot to maintain more space between vehicles. Please follow the instructions of Foodbank staff when asked to either pull fully into a bay or remain in the parking lot. Please remember to maintain your distance from Foodbank staff. 

MarketPlace
Adjustments have been made to the MarketPlace area to ensure adequate space and promote social distancing. 

When shopping MarketPlace:
o Only 2 representatives per network partner are allowed at a time
o When entering MarketPlace, please sanitize hands and put on gloves
o Sanitize the handle of the cart before shopping
o Maintain distance from Foodbank staff and other network partner representatives – the area of MarketPlace has been expanded to allow for more space between pallets and shoppers
o Be mindful of the number of represenatives in the cooler – if the cooler area is full, wait your turn to enter
o Continue to weigh items by category
o When finished loading MarketPlace items, return the cart to MarketPlace and sanitize the handle

4. Product Availability
The Foodbank menu has more free food than has ever been available. When there is a small shared maintenance fee associated with products, the Foodbank does not view this as “buying” or “purchasing” food - but rather a way we share the overall cost of keeping our regional food program open for all of us. Please help us by considering and referring to these costs as “shared maintenance” or “handling fees”.

The Foodbank menu has been updated to include the “COVID-19 Partner Support Grant” section. This section of the menu is full of free items and is reviewed and replenished daily to provide additional resources to our network of hunger-relief programs open during this time. As always, the Foodbank will continue to garner support and ensure free food availability for our hunger-relief network. 

5. Reminder – Update Foodbank with Program Changes:
As COVID-19 escalates in our community, we do need to make sure you are communicating effectively with the Foodbank.  If your organization cancels a pantry distribution, hot meal or other food assistance program; or if your church or non-profit organization closes temporarily due to COVID-19, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org.   

Thank you all for your continued commitment to serving our community. We are grateful for your partnership.

3.23.2020 Update

Due to our ongoing commitment to the safety of our staff and volunteers, and until further notice, we are suspending volunteer activities at our facility at this time. The Foodbank will only be open to staff members, member of the National Guard, and network partners picking up their food orders. 

In order to remain open during this critical time, the Foodbank must reduce exposure for all and prioritize physical distancing in order to focus on its core work. We want to ensure the public that, under all circumstances, the Foodbank will remain open for the distribution of food to our network partners, and when this crisis is over, our reliance on volunteers will continue. 

To be clear, the Ohio Department of Health order to stay at home does provide exceptions for charitable food programs. All network partners are advised to identify the essential number of volunteers that they need to support their core operation while ensuring physical distancing at the same time. 

If you are in need of volunteers at your program, please use the link below and we will add you to our list, available on our website, to anyone interested in volunteering. 
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScJ3EAeYejcc9DCaL7cjIlsT870YcEU-1fC53Ii0SJZ6GPO-w/viewform

National Guard Update:
Starting Monday, 3/23, the Ohio National Guard is serving at Ohio’s Foodbanks. Thirty national guard members are serving at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank assisting with emergency box building, warehouse operations, order delivery to our network partners, and volunteer service at hunger-relief programs. At this time, we do not have National Guard members doing home deliveries of groceries to private residences. 
For order deliveries: network partners are being selected for order deliveries based on order size and distance from the Foodbank. We are not taking requests for delivery at this time. 
For hunger-relief program support: complete the link above to request volunteer support, which includes possible support from National Guard members. 

Reminder – Update Foodbank with Program Changes:
As COVID-19 escalates in our community, we do need to make sure you are communicating effectively with the Foodbank.  If your organization cancels a pantry distribution, hot meal or other food assistance program; or if your church or non-profit organization closes temporarily due to COVID-19, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org.  

Thank you all for your continued commitment to serve our community.

3.18.2020 Update

Dear Network Partner,

The Foodbank is committed to providing the most up-to-date information to our hunger-relief network during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are grateful to you, your volunteers, and your staff for staying engaged with your Foodbank and working to ensure our neighbors have access to food. 

Today’s update includes: 1) updated guidance on continuing food distribution activities, 2) updates to ordering processes, 3) communications with community partners, and 4) best practices.

1: Updated guidance on continuing food distribution activities

We strongly encourage partners to follow the guidance in the document below to modify distributions to drive through or to-go models that encourage social distancing. PantryTrak users should reference thePantryTrak guide below for specific instructions on changes made to the system to simplify intake. 

Modified Distribution Guide

PantryTrak COVID-19 Guide

2. Updates to Ordering Processes

We are working extremely hard to ensure we continue the best service for each of our hunger-relief partners. However, we are receiving high demand and are focused on distributing available products to community members quickly. 

As such, we request that all orders be placed and confirmed within 24 hours of starting the order. Orders waiting in the system without a corresponding appointment scheduled will be cleared every 24 hours. 

We will also be placing limits on certain highly requested items to provide access for as many partners as possible. These limits will be based on the size of the program and current distribution activities at the partner location. 

3. Communications with Community Partners

As COVID-19 escalates in our community, we do need to make sure you are communicating effectively with the Foodbank.  If your organization cancels a pantry distribution, hot meal or other food assistance program; or if your church or non-profit organization closes temporarily due to COVID-19, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org.  

The Foodbank is updating our website and sharing information of changes and closures with our local 211 partner, United Way of Summit County, which serves 5 counties in the Foodbank’s service area. Your updates help us to provide the most accurate information to community members in need of food assistance. 

Further, we will be posting on our website and social media information we are sharing with the network to help people in need of food assistance understand the changes they may experience when visiting one of your food programs. We believe sharing this information will help with expectation setting at your programs and hopefully provide for ease of operation as you switch to new methods of distribution. 

Finally, we continue to gather information from our partners and attempt to connect resources in the community where it is possible. We are working to seek funding and provide opportunities for additional support as they become available. 

4. Best Practices 

We ask our network partners to continue emphasizing to their staff and volunteers to maintain personal hygiene practices which should be in place every day at any food distribution facility:  

Steps YOU can take

  • Keep your hands clean by regularly washing them in hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.  This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hand, or using the restroom. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home from work and/or your hunger-relief program if you have flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever. 
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. 
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system. 
  • Use sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces clean that multiple people will touch, like tables, counters, phones, pens, etc. 

If you have any questions, concerns or want the most up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is affecting the Foodbank, visit the Agency Zone of the Foodbank website or contact Mark Mitchell at 330.777.2306 or mmitchell@acrfb.org.ring this crisis. Thank you for your partnership.

3.13.2020 Update

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is always committed to supporting our hunger-relief partners. We are advocating for all possible exceptions to ensure ease of distribution and wanted to provide an update for you. As the Coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to escalate, we continue to gather and respond to guidance from local health authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, hunger-relief partners, and neighbors while maintaing food distribution for the community. 

We are operating under the following guiding principles:
1. Continue to serve our community with the highest standards.
2. Keep our employees safe.
3. Do our part to slow community spread of the virus as guided by recommendations by local authorities.

Food Distribution Recommendations
Utilizing guidance from local, state, and federal health agencies we advise that network partners adjust food distribution models to promote social distancing and minimize interaction among volunteers, staff, and the people we serve.

We recommend the following: 

For grocery distributions (pantry, direct distribution, backpack, etc.)
Modify food distribution activities to reduce interaction. For pantries using PantryTrak, DO NOT ask the recipient to electronically sign at this time. Rather, show them the screen and ask permission to sign on their behalf. For paper TEFAP form users, show them the paper TEFAP form and ask permission to sign on their behalf. 

We also recommend changing the distribution model to pre-pack food items and take the food package directly to their vehicle (or if they did not drive, take it outside for them). A drive through model could look as follows:
• Volunteers pre-pack food items in the hunger-relief partner’s building
• People seeking assistance would remain in their vehicles/outside of the building
• Volunteers would then complete any required paperwork quickly with the individual and provide their pre-packed box of groceries

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is advocating for a complete waiver of the TEFAP form for the duration of this crisis and we will notify you if we are successful in that endeavor. Meanwhile, please follow the instruction above.

For meal programs (hot meals, snack programs, and other congregate meal gatherings):
Modify food distribution activities to reduce interaction. We recommend providing individuals with the option to take their meals home. If providing to-go meals, ensure that prepared meals are being kept under temperature control until distributed. 

For youth programs (after-school, backpack, school pantries, etc.)
Modify food distribution activities to reduce interaction. We recommend, if possible, providing the option for families to pick up pre-packed food boxes from a centralized location. Additionally, we encourage families remain in their car when picking up food to reduce interaction. If your program is unable to remain open, we recommend providing your families with a list of pantries near you. To access this list, visit https://www.akroncantonfoodbank.org/need-food.

Foodbank’s Next Steps
The Foodbank will take every step possible to respond to any disaster and to serve as a resource for our community. We will also work with our hunger-relief partners to provide resources, information and leadership as this situation unfolds.

We will host a conference call for all network partners on Monday, March 16 at 3pm to provide updates, share best practices, and take questions. 
Please dial the phone number five minutes prior to the start of the conference call and enter your passcode. 
Dial-In:  1 (866) 451-7962 Audience US Toll Free
  1 (847) 944-7130 Audience US Toll
Passcode:   8309 070#

We continue to review and refine our Foodbank Disaster Response Plan, focusing on our Continuity of Operations Plan, internal and external communications and pandemic response.  We encourage our network partners to review your own emergency procedures.

As COVID-19 potentially escalates in our community, we do need to make sure you are communicating effectively with the Foodbank.  If your organization has to cancel a pantry distribution, hot meal or other food assistance program; or if your church or non-profit organization closes temporarily due to COVID-19, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org. 

Best Practices
We ask our network partners to continue emphasizing to their staff and volunteers to maintain personal hygiene practices which should be in place every day at any food distribution facility: 

Steps YOU can take
• Keep your hands clean by regularly washing them in hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.  This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hand, or using the restroom.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home from work and/or your hunger-relief program if you have flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever.
• Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
• Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
• Use sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces clean that multiple people will touch, like tables, counters, phones, pens, etc.

If you have any questions, concerns or want the most up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is affecting the Foodbank, visit the Agency Zone of the Foodbank website or contact Mark Mitchell at 330.777.2306 or mmitchell@acrfb.org.

We are beyond grateful to the volunteers and staff in our hunger-relief network for stepping up to serve our neighbors during this crisis. Thank you for your partnership.

 

3.9.2020 Update 

As the Coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to reach more states, the health and safety of our employees, hunger-relief partners and neighbors served are our primary concern. During this time, we will continue to operate under the following guiding principles:
• Keep our employees safe.
• Continue to serve our hunger-relief partners with the highest standards.
• Do our part to slow community spread of the virus as guided by recommendations by local authorities.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 has seen tremendous media coverage recently, and we want to ensure you know the facts and how this relates to our hunger-relief network.  COVID-19 is a virus with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.  It is transmitted by person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or speaking.  It is possible, but extremely unlikely, that a person can be contaminated by surfaces or objects, like tables or food donations.

Current Situation
We are working to be prepared for all scenarios. The Foodbank is monitoring for any increase in food demand, cancellation of any network partner food programs, or disruption in food sourcing related to COVID-19. At this time, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.

Best Practices
We are working with the Summit County Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and Feeding America to access and assess the most up-to-date information.  We are currently gathering best practices from other food banks, Feeding America and other disaster response organizations to determine alternative procedures during interactions such as network partner food distributions, volunteer activities and special events if illness connected to this virus should escalate in our community Practices that can be useful at the hunger-relief partner level are being sought and will be shared.

Foodbank’s Next Steps
The Foodbank will take every step possible to respond to any disaster and to serve as a resource for our community. We will also work with our hunger-relief partners to provide resources, information and leadership as this situation unfolds.
We will be reviewing our Foodbank Disaster Response Plan, focusing on our Continuity of Operations Plan, internal and external communications and pandemic response.  We encourage our network partners to review your own emergency procedures.
In the event that a pandemic escalates and affects Ohio, we do need to make sure you are communicating effectively with the Foodbank.  If your organization has to cancel a pantry distribution, hot meal  or other food assistance program; or if your church or non-profit organization closes temporarily due to COVID-19, please contact Katie Carver Reed at 330.777.7577 or kcarver@acrfb.org.

Steps YOU Can Take
In the meantime, we ask our network partners to emphasize to their staff and volunteers to maintain personal hygiene practices which should be in place every day at any food distribution facility:

• Keep your hands clean by regularly washing them in hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.  This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hand, or using the restroom.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Stay home from work and/or your hunger-relief program if you have flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever.
• Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
• Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
• Use sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces clean that multiple people will touch, like tables, counters, phones, pens, etc.

If you have any questions, concerns or want the most up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is affecting the Foodbank, visit the Agency Zone of the Foodbank website or contact Mark Mitchell at 330.777.2306 or mmitchell@acrfb.org.
 

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