Jen Muzia of Ballard Food Bank in Seattle talks about how the coronavirus outbreak has affected her organization.
JEN MUZIA: Now regarding the coronavirus, I would say that my state of mind is really just wanting to take care of our neighbors.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
This is Jen Muzia, the executive director of Ballard Food Bank in Seattle. This city is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. There are fewer volunteers in the food bank. also fewer customers. Muzia says they are down 30%. People don’t want to be on the go when they don’t have to. The outbreak has also affected what the food bank has on its shelves.
MUZIA: We would send our volunteers out to get groceries from the grocery stores and our trucks would come back with less groceries. And it really was because everyone in our church feels a sense of fear. And people go out and shop and buy things for their families as they need to. For food banks, however, this also means that less food is received by our customers.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Muzia and her staff have worked hard to protect themselves, the volunteers and their customers. You have increased the purification. You wash more hands. And when they learned about social distancing, they made changes to how the food bank worked.
MUZIA: We are usually set up as a grocery store and people come in and shop in a very dignified manner. And for us this is one of the values that are so close to our hearts. But with the coronavirus, we are prepackaging bags of food such as non-perishable items. And then our volunteers, when our neighbors come in to shop and get food, they stay outside instead and we give them those prepackaged bags. But essentially we almost have a personal shopper who then takes our customer’s inquiries, whether it’s some type of product, a dairy or a meat, and then they actually go shopping the grocery bank and bring them back to go with them to go to the non-perishable items that are already in your pocket.
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MUZIA: Sometimes it has been like this lately – I think a lot of us get frustrated very easily with the news and things that are going on in our church. But I also see how people get together in times of crisis and how people really care about each other, how people call us and ask how they can help – you know, can they come voluntarily? What does the grocery bank need? – all of these kinds of questions where people, you know, see the need in community. And they want to make a difference. And then we really see people show up. This part gives me hope how we can all come together and take the right steps to take care of each other.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is Jen Muzia, the executive director of Ballard Food Bank in Seattle. * *
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