COVID-19 Agency Response FAQs

As we navigate this uncharted territory of the Coronavirus response together, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help with some of the concerns you may have.

Can I get more meat or bread?
We understand that all agencies have seen a drop in meat and bread in their retail drops, pickups and the deliveries from Feeding Tampa Bay. As you all know, the food we get into the community is tied to the donations we receive. As stores are sold out of product, that means it will not trickle down to Feeding Tampa Bay or our agencies as abundantly. We are actively looking for additional streams of proteins, meats and bread. We are hopeful that, as retail regulates back to normal, we will see meat and bread once again pick up.

Can we buy purchased product from FTB?
At this time, Save a lot is not placing or delivering PPP orders. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause organizations who depend on those monthly orders. We are working to find other wholesale distributors who can assist in fulfilling these requests. We will provide alternative PPP ordering as soon as it becomes available.

Does the stay at home order apply to food pantries?
Today, our Governor issued stay at home orders for the state. As food pantries and food service organizations, you are all designated as “essential services”. You are able to remain open and your volunteers are allowed to travel to pick up and provide meals. Your clients are able to continue coming to your facility to receive food. If you need documentation to provide to your volunteers or staff regarding their status as “essential services” please reach out to an agency relations staff member or refer to the 4/1/20 agency email from Catherine Godwin.

Can my clients come to the pantry to get food?
All community members are allowed to leave their homes to receive food. This means that anyone can leave their home to go to the grocery store, shop for supplies and attend food distributions run by Feeding Tampa Bay and our agency partners. Your clients are allowed to come to your sites to receive food and services. We urge you all to follow social distancing and all practices encouraged by the CDC. If possible, please turn any distributions into drive-through models or assist your clients in maintaining 6 feet separation at all times.

Q: Can I get additional food in response to school closures/anticipation of increased need?
A: Many agencies have proactively reached out to request food based on announced school closures. As you can imagine, all agencies in our region and across the country are in the same boat of looking for additional food. Feeding Tampa Bay will continue routes and deliveries as planned. We are collecting data and assessing the needs of all of our organizations. We will use increases in clients served to work on ways to get additional food into communities as equitably as possible.

Many school districts will continue to serve meals to children who are displaced from the classroom through various forms of meal distributions. As sites are identified, the summer break spot page will be updated. You can access that site here: https://summerbreakspot.freshfromflorida.com/.

Feeding Tampa Bay is also working closely with schools districts in our region to help fill the gaps, both through grocery deliveries and through additional meal distributions for children.

Q: How do I get more food?
A: At this time, Feeding Tampa Bay is currently collecting data on all service areas to see where we can strategically get food into the community. Our goal is to make sure you continue to receive the same amounts of food as normal.

We realize that getting through the next 6-10 weeks as a network is a marathon, not a sprint. We are looking at ways to manage our resources across partners so that everyone can continue to feed their communities for as long as this public health crisis may last.

We request that you continue to update us on your status and service population at this link. As your status changes or as your client needs increase, please let us know.

We will use the information we gather through this survey to plan our future deliveries as they become available, plan additional mobile pantries, or reassign food originally directed toward agencies who have closed their doors.

We are also tracking all organizations that do reach out for additional food and will be reaching out to those organizations as deliveries and programs emerge to fit their needs.

Q: If my agency decides to temporarily close am I supposed to notify my AERP stores that I will not be picking up donations or will a FTB staff notify my AERP stores?
A: Please alert Feeding Tampa Bay to all closures or AERP changes as soon as possible. A FTB staff member will be notifying your AERP stores of any changes or delays outside of your normal donations pick-up schedule.

Please be aware that your agency should expect to see your food donation volume decrease in the upcoming weeks due to families stockpiling.

Q: Are you open?
A: Yes, Feeding Tampa Bay is open. With the newest guidelines around events and gatherings limits to 10 people, we are making adjustments to our internal team processes to respect social distancing. We are rotating schedules to provide the best care to our internal team while making sure there is no gap in service to you and our community. We are committed to serving anyone in need throughout our 10 counties. Please visit http://feedingtampabay.org/agency-cvprep/ to learn more about FAQs and status updates on the programs and open food pantries in your areas. All changes in operation will be announced via email to agencies or on our facebook page.

Q: Will there be anything on my retail drop or AERP pickup?
A: At this time our agency partners are reporting that they are down about 60% of usual donation volume. All of the agencies participating in the Retail Route program will receive their drops but should be prepared to expect low amounts of food due to food availability in our partner stores. Please adjust your operations and pre-packaging plan to accommodate this drop. We are working to find additional ways to supplement retail donations and we will communicate those opportunities as they arise.

The Feeding Tampa Bay team is actively reaching out to acquire excess food products. Please contact your agency relations representative or Catherine Godwin to discuss additional food resources if your AERP stores are not producing enough donations for your pantry and the clients you serve.

Q: Are any programs canceled?
A: All Feeding Tampa Bay Programs are operating with the exception of our My Mobile Market program. Please be checking your emails and this page to see the modifications we are making as donations and volunteers continue to fluctuate.

Q: What should I do to stay open yet still maintain my distance?
A: There are a number of ways to practice social distancing. You can begin pre-packing your food in order to reduce the number of hands coming in contact with the food and your volunteers. Once the bags are pre-packed you can distribute them in a way that works for your pantry’s space and the number of volunteers you have.

Switching to a drive-up model where your agency hands out the pre-packaged bags will allow for minimal contact, this model will also cut your distribution time down.

Q: If I am an AERP agency and I close, will I lose my retail stores when we reopen?
A: No. We understand that agencies may have to close and our priority is to resume operations as normal once that agency opens for business. No agency will be penalized or have programs taken away due to their closure status during the coronavirus response.