Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the Nourish mobile food truck at both the Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup Pierce College campuses will remain open for anyone in need of groceries.
Due to the outbreak, Nourish has taken extra safety measures for the truck to ensure the safety of customers.
The safety measures include changing it from a grocery store model, where shoppers enter the truck and hand-select their items, to a box distribution model. The new model has customers park next to the truck and give a volunteer their grocery list, then the volunteer will put the items in a box and place the box in the customer’s car.
Extra sanitation in the truck, using face masks and the practice of social distancing are also being heavily implemented.
“That way we aren’t having customers come in, touching carts and signing in, we worked to eliminate all of that to maintain keeping the truck safe for people to still utilize,” said the Executive Director of Nourish, Sue Potter about the changes.
The Washington State National Guard has also deployed around 200 guardsmen to help with food distribution from food banks across the state. Potter explained that since Nourish has lost 70-75% of their volunteer base from the outbreak, the guardsmen have filled in the roles of the volunteers at the truck.
“They’re not there to police anything at all, they’re packing the boxes for us and serving as the volunteers,” said Potter. “If it weren’t for them, we would’ve had to close sites like the one in Puyallup due to having not enough volunteers.”
Due to a higher influx of people going to the food truck for groceries since foods are selling out fast at grocery stores;the COVID-19 outbreak has also affected Nourish’s food demand.
Nourish usually receives its food from any grocery stores needing to replace their supplies with newer shipments, otherwise, the food ends up in a landfill. However, with grocery stores struggling to keep their own shelves stocked, the truck hasn’t been able to receive those donations.
The grocery store frenzy has also caused Nourish to go through their yearly budget at a much faster rate.
“Nourish typically buys 18 to 22 semi-trucks full of food a year,” said Potter. “Those purchases usually are spread out through a course of 12 months, and what we’re seeing right now is we’re spending our budget money for third and fourth quarter all now because we’re distributing so quickly.”
The pandemic also caused a delay for Nourish’s annual fundraiser. The fundraiser collects the majority of their budget to buy those groceries. Currently, the new date is to be determined.
Claire Bunker, the Grants and Communications manager for Nourish, says that she’s been having to write more grants for emergency funding as a result.
“We rely completely on grants, gifts and donations so with the fundraisers being pushed back, grants and individual donations have become even more important,” said Bunker.
For anyone who wants to make a donation to Nourish, Potter asked to consider cash donations instead of direct food donations. Donations can be made on their Nourish website, nourishpc.org.
The Nourish food truck is open for anyone in need, no questions asked, at both campuses during each scheduled day and time.
For the Puyallup campus, hours are Mondays 1 to 3 p.m. outside of the Arts and Allied Health building. Fort Steilacoom campus hours are Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. in parking lot D.
“We will continue to serve and take care of people in need as long as anyone shows up at those locations,” said Potter.
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