Nonprofits, homeless shelters adjust day-to-day operations amid coronavirus concerns

Posted at 10:37 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 23:24:50-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- Local nonprofits and homeless shelters are adjusting their day-to-day operations amid concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff members at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa are now handing out boxes of food drive-thru style instead of allowing clients into the food pantry.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Metropolitan Ministries delivering food via drive-thru amid coronavirus concerns

"We're emptying out the warehouse, everything we can possibly give away, we’re giving away to families in need," said President Tim Marks.

Marks tells ABC Action News, they are giving away more than 200 food boxes a day.

He says with jobs in jeopardy over COVID-19, the need is growing and donations are slipping, down 25 percent.

"Individual donors, I know they’re scared," said Marks. "They’re worried about their own families, but nothing good happens on this campus without the great folks of the Tampa Bay community."

John Taylor stood outside collecting canned goods and water bottles for 90 minutes. We were there when Taylor delivered the donations to Metropolitan Ministries Monday afternoon.

"As chaotic and troubling as times are right now, this can also show how strong we are," said Taylor.

Shelters for people experiencing homelessness are full at both Metropolitan Ministries and the Salvation Army of Tampa.

Captain Andy Miller says social distancing is difficult in a shelter but his staff is following CDC guidelines. They have stopped serving food cafeteria-style to better protect the health and safety of the clients they serve and workers.

"What we have to do is have the social distancing at the meals," said Miller. "We don’t have lines, instead we call people out when it’s time for them to eat."

Both Metropolitan Ministries and Salvation Army have stopped utilizing volunteers to better track the people working at both nonprofits.