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Community Harvest prepared to distribute emergency food

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FORT WAYNE, Ind,. (WPTA21) -- Folks with social service agencies are gearing up to help people during and after the worst of the coronavirus epidemic.

"Virtually everybody in Allen County is succeptible, because you've never had it before and you've not had a vaccine for it," Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan says.

Health and other area leaders strategized Tuesday about goals for the community to effectively respond to coronavirus.

A crucial step, ensuring everyone has food to eat, especially if they're quarantined.

"With the understanding that it may not necessarily be what they're used to under normal circumstances. The goal will be to keep people healthy and fed, even if that means peanut butter and jelly and macaroni and cheese," says health department administrator Mindy Waldron.

"We're first responders in disaster. This is nothing new to us," Community Harvest Food Bank's Carmen Cumberland says.

Administrators at Community Harvest Food Bank regularly work with the Red Cross and Homeland Security after disasters strike.

If the coronavirus epidemic prompts local people to be quarantined, Community Harvest says it's prepared to ensure that people get emergency food.

Community Harvest has a fleet of trucks that could go into quarantined areas to deliver food, if necessary.

"We get food from USDA that a certain proportion is allocated to each county. But in the event of a disaster, I wouldn't say no holds barred, but you make the decisions you make to help provide food for the people," she says.

She says cCommunity Harvest has another facility on Coliseum Boulevard that has ovens and a working kitchen, so employees can provide meals.

She says other food banks in the state are talking about having clients drive up to a facility to get a box of food put in the trunk of their car instead of going inside to shop -- something Community Harvest is considering, as well.

Brian Britenriker says he's taking the coronavirus seriously, and thinks having a drive-through service to get food from Community Harvest would be a good idea, with some considerations.

"For me on my diet, too, that's a whole other story because I have kidney disease and I have to do a low sodium diet. So some people on certain diets would have to specify, they'd have to know. Because it would be a waste to give me things that I can't eat that could go to someone else who could eat them," he says.

Community Harvest also has a fleet of trucks that could go into quarantined areas to deliver food, if necessary.

The Board of Health will hold an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to further discuss the communtiy's response to COVID-19.

The main issue will be defining the triggers or threshold for activities, like limiting the gatherings of large numbers of people.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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