Norfolk, VA — July 20, 2020 — The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore today announced a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for an employee. The organization received formal notification on Saturday, July 18 that a staff member working at the 800 Tidewater Drive location in Norfolk tested positive for COVID-19. All individuals — employees and volunteers — who may have been potentially exposed or in close contact with this staff member have been informed and will take the necessary precautions as defined within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
Over the last several months, in accordance with CDC guidance, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore has been actively monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and taking proactive measures to protect the health and well-being of staff, volunteers, and clients, while serving the community during this critical time.
On March 20, the Foodbank suspended Friday Distribution at the Tidewater Drive location and collaborated with strategic partners to develop a contactless distribution system. The organization also initiated social distancing practices and increased sanitary and safety procedures. Several programs and initiatives relaunched in May — with a modified service delivery model that enabled the safe distribution of meals to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity throughout Southeastern Virginia and on the Eastern Shore.
“As we embarked on a phased approach to re-establishing our mission-critical programs at the Foodbank, we took every safety precaution as advised by public health officials to keep our staff, volunteers, and community members safe — while at the same time maintaining our commitment to eliminating hunger,” said Dr. Ruth Jones Nichols, President and CEO, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. “As frontline workers tackling food insecurity in the midst of a pandemic, we knew it was not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’ we would be directly impacted. We are appreciative of our staff who place the needs of our community above their own and work tirelessly to serve our neighbors experiencing food insecurity during this critical time. Our thoughts are with our staff member and their family, and all frontline responders working to provide essential services during this global health crisis.”
The Foodbank will temporarily close the facility located at 800 Tidewater Drive, Norfolk to fully disinfect and sanitize the workplace. The facility will close from Sunday, July 19 to Wednesday, July 22. All employees who are able to work remotely will do so. Those who have jobs that cannot be performed remotely will remain at home with pay. Food pickups, deliveries and direct food distributions originating from the facility at 800 Tidewater Drive, Norfolk will be rescheduled through Wednesday, July 22. Volunteer shifts will be suspended through Friday, July 24.
Upon reopening on Thursday, July 23, all employees will be reminded to carefully monitor their health and follow the proper protocol set forth by the Foodbank, such as wearing face coverings, maintaining proper social distancing of 6 feet from others, and using hand sanitizer and/or washing their hands several times a day. Additional safety precautions for all Foodbank locations and program sites will also be implemented.
With no threat to food inventory, the Foodbank will continue to provide emergency food assistance for Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, which is currently experiencing a significant increase in the number of families who need access to healthy food. The food insecurity rate in Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore is projected to rise to 15.7% for the overall population and 23.5% for children — an increase from 10.3% and 13.8% in 2018, respectively.
The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore has and will continue to follow guidelines established by the CDC to safeguard staff, volunteers, partner agencies and neighbors from exposure to COVID-19.
Kelli Webb, The KBD Group