Shelves filling up at food bank

The shelves at the Havasu Community Health Foundation Food Bank aren’t completely full, but they are much improved from the way they looked in mid-July. Manager Colleen Mattinson issued a plea for help three weeks ago, and Havasu residents responded with donations of cash and nonperishable food.

The nationwide coronavirus pandemic has created a surge in new applicants at the Havasu Community Health Foundation Food Bank, and organizers are making changes to accommodate them.

With one case of coronavirus confirmed this week in Lake Havasu City, businesses throughout Havasu have been ordered to close under a mandate by the Arizona Governor’s Office. Layoffs have already begun at Havasu restaurants, bars and service businesses, and according to food bank Manager Colleen Mattinson, the food bank received 25 new applications for food assistance on Tuesday alone.

“It’s because of the pandemic,” Mattinson said. “Normally, we’d get a couple of new people per day. We can guarantee boxes of food from (supporters) for people who need it, and the community has been amazing in donating food and cash assistance. People are going to get their food.”

Getting that food to residents who need it has required safety precautions on the part of the Havasu Community Health Foundation, as well as by the St. Vincent de Paul food bank.

Last week, the community health foundation issued gloves to clients at its food bank facility, and limited entry to three people at a time. On Tuesday, food bank officials began a drive-through only service, limiting interactions between volunteers and visitors.

“We want to be as safe as we can be for ourselves and the public,” Mattinson said. “We’ll run like this until the panic is over. If new clients want to apply for food bank services, we’ll ask them to remain in their car and we’ll fill out the application for them. We’re just trying to be safe for everyone.”

Mattinson says the growth in food bank clients will continue, and the facility could see at least 10 new applicants per day as panic surrounding coronavirus continues.

Both of St. Vincent de Paul locations in Havasu were closed on March 20, in the interest of volunteer and customer safety. The organization’s food bank, on 1851 Commander Drive, will remain open and operational for applicants who call ahead.

For more information about food bank services in Havasu, contact the Havasu Community Health Foundation Food Bank at 928-453-8190, or the St. Vincent de Paul food bank at 928-860-2874.

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