Salvation Army adapts its food distribution procedures

The Salvation Army distributed 53 bags of foodstuffs at a Monday, March 23 event. (March 19, 2020) Photo courtesy of Steve Leppert

Like Cordova’s churches, schools and restaurants, the Salvation Army food pantry has been forced to retool its approach to meet new norms of social distancing. Residents are no longer able to browse the shelves at the Salvation Army’s First Street venue. Instead, they pick up pre-packed bags of foodstuffs at the door, minimizing contact with the volunteers inside.

The Salvation Army held a food distribution event on the evening of Monday, March 23, at which 53 bags were distributed. Bags contained milk, rice, canned vegetables and other staples. Some bags also included soap and other toiletries currently in short supply.

Only residents signed up for Salvation Army services are eligible to receive food pantry bags, although it is possible to sign up on the spot at a food distribution event. The Salvation Army hopes to be able to hold food distribution events at least once per month even as the coronavirus pandemic continues, officials said.

Though panic buying has been limited in Cordova, runs on meat, eggs and other staples have made it harder for residents to keep their refrigerators properly stocked. The Cordova Church of the Nazarene also operates its own food bank, with which it assists elderly residents and those who might otherwise fall through the cracks, said Pastor Steve Leppert.

“Stay informed, but also be willing to turn off the news and love your neighbor,” Leppert said. “It’s not a matter of who goes to church and who doesn’t. This is about humanity and love for each other.”

The Salvation Army and the Cordova Church of the Nazarene both offer delivery of food bank goods, a service which may become more important as the need for social distancing increases.

Leppert encourages anyone interested in signing up for Salvation Army services to contact him at 907-429-6262, he said. Residents wishing to donate to the Cordova Church of the Nazarene food bank should drop materials off at the church’s covered entryway and then notify Leppert by phone, he said.

“We didn’t ask, ‘What should we do?’ we asked, ‘What are we going to do?’” Leppert said. “I’m so proud of our folks stepping up and taking care of each other… There’s enough people out there saying one thing and living a different way, so I’m just proud of them putting their money where their mouth is.”