LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As the Kentucky National Guard gears up to deploy to several food banks across the state, people working the frontlines of the pantries are desperately warning neighbors to stay safe at home and physical distance. Since one St. Matthews Area Ministries staff member has had to self-isolate, the consequences of COVID-19 for food pantries has become very real.
Julie Abbott helps run the ministry andfood pantry that’s supplied by Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville. However, she’s been off the job and in isolation since her mother was diagnosed with coronavirus over the weekend.
“It has been a big big rollercoaster ride this past week,” she says, “it has hit very very hard, as my mother was diagnosed this past Saturday with COVID-19. That also has the side effect of double pneumonia. It’s been very, very trying the last seven days…and people don’t understand that these hospitals are on lockdown. You cannot visit your loved one.”
Abbott shared that her mother is intubated, on a ventilator. Now, more than ever, she’s urging people to stay at home to curb the COVID-19 spread. The thought of how her pantry could run, should a staffer come down with the virus, has also crossed her mind.
“We don’t know how long we’re going to be able to continue to operate, because if a staff member or a volunteer has that diagnosis, we will have to go under quarantine immediately which means those services will stop,” Abbott adds.
The pantry has made safety modifications. They’ve trimmed down on staff, allowing elderly volunteers to stay at home. They’re operating by appointment only through a drive-thru.
Next week, 70 troops with the Kentucky Guard will deploy beginning on Monday to food banks in four areas: Louisville, Lexington, Elizabethtown, and Wilder. They will be working at Dare to Care in Louisville.
“We’re well-suited for tasks like this. We have the equipment. We have the personnel. And we’re used to moving large amounts of supplies,” said Maj. Stephen Martin, Director of Public Affairs.