The coronavirus has altered all aspects of our daily lives, from how we interact with others to the way we conduct business.
These changes have hit the nonprofit community hard, especially those who rely on volunteers.
The Devens-based Loaves & Fishes food pantry was no exception.
Since its inception in 1983, the Barnum Road facility, which serves needy families in Ayer, Devens, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Littleton and Shirley, had never experienced a shutdown of the duration that began on April 3.
Even after Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts on March 10, the food pantry tried to maintain its services. However, once the scope of the pandemic hit home, it became impossible to sustain the operation.
“Most of our volunteers are retired, elderly,” Patricia Stern, Loaves & Fishes executive director, told the newspaper. At a high risk of contracting COVID-19, Stern said some decided they could no longer give of their time for that reason.
Then the driver of the box truck who made weekly trips to Boston for fresh produce and other items the pantry relied on opted out.
This one-two punch forced the food pantry’s hand, leading to the April 3 closure.
But it seems you can’t keep Loaves & Fishes down for too long. It’s reopened its doors, with some coronavirus-required modifications.
Through the end of April at least, the food pantry will run a “no-touch/drive- thru” operation.
Stern said the building will be closed to the public, and cars queuing on drive-thru days will be the lines allowed.
Inventory remains a concern, since no more “in kind” donations will be accepted. That includes customer donation boxes from area grocery stores or bags dropped off at the pantry.
However, individual stores can still donate on their own.
Each grocery order is placed on a table out back for drive-thru pickup.
We urge area supermarkets in the communities served by this food pantry to open their hearts and provide whatever items they can to help keep this venerable charity afloat.
For more questions or to check the drive-thru schedule, visit loavesfishespantry.org or call 978-772-4627.