The coronavirus crisis has drastically changed daily life and left many in need.
School closings have left children without daily access to regular meals. Business closings and reduced work schedules will mean smaller paychecks or no income at all. Elderly people are increasingly isolated and face the anxiety of having to balance the need to shop for food with risking their health.
However, agencies around the state are mobilizing to help these populations, including Catholic Charities of South Carolina.
The Coastal Office at 1662 Ingram Road in Charleston is now offering a drive-through food pantry from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, according to site administrator Rocio Maldonado. The office has temporarily suspended face-to-face client meetings.
The Pee Dee offices at 2294 Technology Blvd. in Conway are still open as normal, although they have added new health and safety procedures. The food pantry operates from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Michele Borbely Corkum, site administrator at Catholic Charities of the Pee Dee, said new health procedures include requiring everyone to use hand sanitizer as they enter the building and staff and volunteers to wear gloves and masks. Instead of walking through the pantry to choose their food, clients are now restricted to the lobby, where they fill out their selections on a form. Volunteers then gather the food and bring the bags out to the client. Staff members have been wiping down all surfaces hourly with disinfectant wipes and Lysol.
Clean of Heart in Myrtle Beach, which provides laundry and shower services for the homeless, also continues to operate at 1005 Osceola Street in Myrtle Beach. Added safety procedures are also in place there.
Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center’s food pantry in Gloverville will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, according to site administrator Joely Leguizamon. The pantry serves Horse Creek Valley residents within school area 3.
In Greenville, the Catholic Charities pantry is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 3 p.m. They are located at San Sebastian, 2300 Old Buncombe Road, Greenville, SC 29609, 864-517-1016
The Hardeeville pantry is open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are located next to The Mercy Mission, 19869 Whyte Hardee Blvd, Hardeeville, SC 29926, 843-208-2276
Borbely said they have seen a surge in need in their area.
“We are seeing double the amount of clients in our food pantry as normal,” Borbely said. “For instance, on Monday March 16 we saw almost 50 households when we average 25 a day.”
Outreach workers expect the numbers to rise as the crisis continues.
“We are asking anyone who is pregnant or elderly [who are] in need of food to call our office first and we will create a time for them to come in either before or after normal pantry hours to avoid crowds,” Borbely said.
She said some volunteers have decided to stay home for safety reasons, and the agency has cancelled all face to face meetings with clients for the next two weeks.
Borbely said the agency will keep its programs up and running until they are advised otherwise.