East Bay Food Pantry Thrift Shop reopens to visitors

Hours for shop and food programs have changed to accommodate clients without crowding

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/22/20

The East Bay Food Pantry’s Thrift Shop reopened Monday, May 18, with modified hours to separate Thrift Shop traffic from food distribution. The new Thrift Shop hours are Saturdays and Mondays …

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East Bay Food Pantry Thrift Shop reopens to visitors

Hours for shop and food programs have changed to accommodate clients without crowding

Posted

The East Bay Food Pantry’s Thrift Shop reopened Monday, May 18, with modified hours to separate Thrift Shop traffic from food distribution. The new Thrift Shop hours are Saturdays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“It went really well,” said Executive Director Karen Griffith on Monday’s reopening. “It was busy, but we were able to keep everyone appropriately distanced.”

In addition to mandating masks, and marking the floors for social distancing, they have installed plexiglass barriers at the checkout counter. They just resumed accepting donations, which had been suspended for several weeks. It is by appointment only, and the goods are being “quarantined” for a week before being handled by staff.

The Thrift Shop generates about 40 percent of the Food Pantry’s operating budget, but food distribution remains the primary mission of the organization, so Ms. Griffith and her staff and volunteers have worked hard to maintain their food programs throughout this crisis, though they did have to pause Fresh Food Fridays for a few weeks. That program has since resumed.

Ms. Griffith is very grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way for a $30,000 Covid Response grant the East Bay Food Pantry received, which will go a long way toward helping fill the gap in funds left by the closure of the Thrift Shop, coupled with greater need. “That has been a big help in allowing us to meet the increased demand for food assistance,” she said.

The East Bay Food Pantry continues to provide food assistance for anyone in need in the East Bay (Newport through East Providence). For the safety of guests and volunteers, all food is currently pre-bagged and distributed at the front door.

“We are getting people what they need, and we are handing out more than ever before, but without waiting in lines,” said Ms. Griffith. “It has worked well so far.”

The impact of Covid-19 on Food Pantry operations has been significant. They are distributing about 40 percent more food from the Pantry over last year. School closures, combined with the economic downturn, has doubled the number of families enrolled in their Food4Kids program; deliveries to the elderly, and people in quarantine have also increased dramatically.

The Food Pantry provides about a week’s worth of groceries at each visit, including dairy, meat, fresh produce, and non-perishables. Food Pantry bags can be picked up Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. or Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Families with children can receive Food4Kids bags every Friday, 10 a.m. to noon. The bags contain about a week’s worth of healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack foods.

Additional fresh produce is available weekly on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., while supplies last.

These hours have all changed to help keep Thrift Shop and Food Pantry clients separated. “We want to make sure we aren’t putting any of our elderly or immune-compromised clients at risk,” said Ms. Griffith.

To make a monetary donation to support the East Bay Food Pantry, visit eastbayfoodpantry.org or mail a check to East Bay Food Pantry, 532 Wood St., Bristol, RI 02809.

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