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Brazos Valley Food Bank modifies operation after employee tests positive for COVID-19

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 19:46:20-04

BRYAN, TX — The Brazos Valley Food Bank has closed its warehouse and volunteer center after an employee tested positive of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the food bank was notified that an employee within the warehouse processing department tested positive for the virus, forcing the food bank to send everyone in the department home to begin self-isolation.

“Everybody was wearing their mask all the time so this impacted eight employees,” said Brazos Valley Food Bank Executive Director Theresa Mangapora.

With seven staff members waiting for their test results, the food bank has not had to interrupt services at all thanks to a board member.

“The thought of us going a full week and having to cancel all of those deliveries just didn’t sit well. You know, I had the opportunity to help out, [I had] sometime available to do it and it just felt like the right thing to do,” said Brazos Valley Food Bank Board Member Robert Kimmel.

With just three volunteers working the warehouse, they have modified operations.

"With just a couple of volunteers to be able to still consolidate those orders, we’ve asked some of the people that we support to come here and pick those goods up themselves,” said Kimmel.

While the food bank has plans in place if individuals get sick, there was no way to plan for a positive COVID-19 case in the warehouse. So now they may have to lean on surrounding food banks for support.

“I expected that another food bank may say, "Hey let me send somebody over to your place," and I'm not saying that might not be needed because if all of my folks that are currently at home waiting for a test end up being positive, we are not going to be operating at full capacity next week,” said Mangapora.

While the new warehouse volunteers have no experience, they understand the importance of continuing operation for the community

“From everything from turning on the lights this morning, it was just a feeling around in the dark until I found the light switches but we’re making it happen and we’ve been able to fulfill two orders today and we’re going to continue doing that throughout the week,” said Kimmel.

The food bank says they will continue their normal mobile food drives, with one scheduled Friday in Burton.

The food bank will continue to modify its plans for the coming weeks as test results become available for the other employees. They are updating the community via their social media pages on their website.