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Lakeland Pantry changes protocols to deal with COVID 19

April 17, 2020 by Brian Jopek

As with most everything else at this time, the Lakeland Pantry in Arbor Vitae has made changes to its operational protocols. 

Lorna Springate, the pantry’s director, on Monday told The Lakeland Times some of the changes would begin with reaching out by phone to recipients.

“On our voicemail I’ve told them that if anyone in their household is ill, they are not to come in,” she said. “They can designate somebody from a household that doesn’t have anyone who’s ill come in as their proxy and we’ll waive the proxy regulations through the end of April.”

Springate said people who enter the pantry will be using hand sanitizer.

“We do have gloves we can give them if they would like to wear gloves, which we are going to strongly suggest,” she said. “We’re only going to let in five people at time to kind of minimize things and make them stay six feet apart because that seems to be the guideline for exposure (to COVID-19).”

As for pantry volunteers, Springate said an email was sent to them advising if they felt they shouldn’t come in because they feel they are at risk, “they should not.”

“I am going to require that all my volunteers wear gloves,” she said. “I’m also going to put out a directive to all my volunteers who will be coming back from winter in places like Florida or Arizona to stay away for two weeks and monitor their health.”

At the end of that two week period, Springate said if they’re feeling OK then they may come to the pantry. 

“So, we’re trying to minimize it as much as possible,” she said. “We’re really going to have to play it by ear. We really don’t know and we may not have a lot of people or we could be swamped.” 

Coming up is Lakeland Pantry’s Easter distribution on March 31, which lasts for three distribution days. 

“We’re not sure what’s going to go on there,” Springate said. 

She said with area schools closed for at least the next few weeks, pantry volunteers will be providing food bags for school age children of recipients who have them on their cards.

“The kids, with them not being in school, they’re not getting their lunches and they’re not getting their breakfasts,” Springate said. 

The first of those food bags were assembled Monday and distributed Tuesday. 

“If we run out, I will buy things as I need to,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing right now. As things progress, we’ll probably have to make adjustments.”

Some of those adjustments will be made the next time the pantry is open, adjustments Springate said Tuesday afternoon will include closure of the pantry’s clothing and book areas “at least through April.” 

“Our medical area is closed by Howard Young Medical Center until further notice,” she said. 

Following the pantry’s March 17 operations, Springate was asked how the day went with the new protocols and procedures. 

“It actually went quite well,” she said. “No real issues. Our test will be the three weeks with Easter distribution starting on March 31 and we do three distributions.”

The Lakeland Pantry is normally open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each Tuesday and from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. every other Thursday.

Beginning April 7, the pantry will be open Tuesday’s from 8:30 a.m. to noon and beginning Thursday, April 9, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“Until further notice,” Springate said. “Schedules are posted outside the pantry.”

The phone number for the pantry is 715-358-2222. 

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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