Since opening in 2012, hundreds of folks have walked through the doors at Harvest of Hope pantry every week. But that all changed on March 17, when the pantry found out one of its volunteers had tested positive for COVID-19, causing it to immediately close.
“We’re unique in welcoming everyone who comes to our door for service, except when the doors aren’t open,” says Rick Chadwick, board chair at Harvest of Hope.
The pantry had already taken steps to increase social distancing in light of the pandemic, moving its services to the parking lot beginning March 13. But, working with Boulder County Public Health, the pantry was forced to close for a week in order to deep clean the pantry and train a new batch of young volunteers to step in, as the majority of its regular volunteers are over the age of 65 and at-risk, according to the CDC.
Mike Freiss, 75, a former board member and long-time volunteer who has been involved with Harvest of Hope since its founding, is now being asked to stay home and help from behind the scenes. “It’s been very hard not to be there and support the staff and serve the population that comes in,” he says.
Harvest of Hope reopened on March 23. Set up once again in the parking lot, morning clients (low-income individuals and families) can pick up groceries. Unhoused individuals are offered sandwiches as well as bagged groceries in the afternoon. The pantry is offering limited mail service for unhoused individuals. Everyone is asked to leave the parking lot once they’ve been served.
“I know a lot of the volunteers miss their opportunity to be with the clients,” Freiss says. “It’s going to be nice to get back to that; it’s just hard to predict when that will be.”
To find out how you can help Harvest of Hope continue serving our community in need visit hopepantry.org.