Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in need of volunteers

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 3:52 PM EDT
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The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is looking for more volunteers for their warehouse and mobile pantries: specifically healthy, low-risk volunteers.

The food bank said they've seen an increased demand for food, and they're adapting their processes to lower the risk of exposure to clients and volunteers.

Due to the changes, they're in need of more people to help out. If you're interested in volunteering, there are several opportunities. People can call one of the more than

to see if help is needed. The warehouses in Charlottesville, Verona, Lynchburg, and Winchester have activities available for volunteers as well.

"Our top priority is making sure food pantries can remain operational in their local communities," Michael McKee, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank CEO, said. "We are here to empower them, provide them with food."

Volunteers can

at their nearest warehouse location. There are also ten mobile food pantry sites that are in need of help as well.

"We are pre-packing boxes full of [non-perishable] food so that volunteers at local food pantries have an easier time of it. They can hand those boxes to people on a drive-thru basis," McKee said.

The food bank said while they aren't able to ensure six feet of space between volunteers for every project, they are scheduling more shifts with fewer people to reduce risk. They've also implemented frequent sanitation routines practiced throughout the day.

The food bank has also temporarily lowered the age requirement to allow volunteers 16 and older. Ideally, they would like those volunteers to be accompanied by an adult, since there won't always be someone available to supervise teens who can't work on their own.

All of the shifts are scheduled during the day, and new shifts will be added over time. BRAFB recommends creating a volunteer account that can be checked often. Some Saturday shifts will be scheduled, as well as some evening shifts eventually. The first Saturday shift is this Saturday, March 21 in Verona.

“If there’s any silver lining in our new normal, it’s the evidence that we live and work in communities where people care about each other and about folks in need. The Food Bank is receiving questions and inquiries from people in a position to help, who want to know what they can do for others impacted by this pandemic,” said Karen Ratzlaff, Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. “Volunteering is one of the best ways individuals can provide that much needed help.”

If you aren't able to volunteer, you can also consider a financial donation to BRAFB. Those can be made on their