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Northland food banks in need of volunteers due to COVID-19

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GRAND RAPIDS, MN -- There's a growing concern among staff and those who rely on Second Harvest Food Bank in Grand Rapids.

"At the start of the pandemic, there was an increase. What we're seeing right now is things are kind of stabilized," said Trisha Zimmerman, Development and Marketing Manager. "We're really concerned about what's going to happen as benefits start to decrease for individuals going forward."

With students distant learning and parents working from home, the staff at Second Harvest have had to take multiple trips to the food shelves they serve in seven counties.

Baylie Norris has been a volunteer for over a year, said she's seen a large increase in the food shelf which is based out of Second Harvest.
"It was kind of funny to watch how we adjusted with a couple of bins pre-packed and now we're at four. So you can definitely see the increase."

To keep up with the demand during the pandemic the food bank has implemented numerous changes. "We need them to wash their hands, go through a check-in process where we ask about six to seven questions, we also take temperatures," said Zimmerman.

Those changes included not allowing volunteers over the age of 60 to help, as the age group is at higher risk of the virus.

"Now that it's winding down, people are getting busier we kind of need more volunteers. So I'd say the 60-65 definitely has effected us now," said Norris.

But hope is on the horizon for those who haven't been able to help.

Zimmerman said, "Our hope is that if things continue to improve, we're crossing our fingers we'll be able to bring volunteers over 65. Maybe 65-67 something like that back starting in August."

While there's still work to do and families to help Second Harvest officials say none of it could be done without their army of volunteers.

For those interested in volunteering, click here.

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Emma Quinn

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