Local food banks, missions struggle with loss of volunteers due to pandemic


Whether it's serving a hot meal or packing to-go boxes, people across the Valley need help feeding their families

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – COVID-19 precautions could make it tough on volunteers this holiday season and the organizations that need their help.

Whether it’s serving a hot meal or packing to-go boxes, people across the Valley need help feeding their families this Thanksgiving.

For many organizations, manpower to help all those people may be an issue. Since the pandemic began, the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley has stopped allowing volunteers inside, and they will rely on only staff to serve up Thanksgiving favorites.

“We are just trying to minimize people that come in. We are having our cooks cook more meals and then serving, so it is a little more of a heavy burden for them not having volunteers to help with this as well,” said John Muckridge, spokesperson for Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.

Over at Gleaners Food Bank, there are still volunteers but not as many. Spokesperson Don Nye said they are still accepting new volunteers.

“This year, we are down like maybe six or eight. That is why you see the truck here. People work extra long hours, and it’s just really tough,” Nye said. “We usually like to have one volunteer per station, but now, each volunteer is having to carry three to four different stations.”

Gleaners Food Bank is hosting a food distribution on November 21 at the Canfield Fairgrounds.

The Rescue Mission OF the Mahoning Valley will be serving a buffet on Thanksgiving to those who are staying inside the mission and will distribute Thanksgiving boxes to those who aren’t.

Thanksgiving meals will be served from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at no charge in the Rescue Mission’s dining hall. The public can dine-in or carry out between noon and 7 p.m.

Social distancing will be practiced with seating arrangements. No reservations are required for the Thanksgiving meal.

Both organizations say food and money donations are always appreciated.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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