Vail Valley Salvation Army serves locals in need
Food bank shelves are quickly being depleted as valley feels the effects of COVID-19
It’s been a busy time for staff members and volunteers at the Vail Valley Salvation Army in Avon.
“We had about 25 or 26 households come in to get food last Friday, 47 on Monday by 4 p.m. and over two dozen households came in Tuesday and Wednesday of this week,” said Tsu Wolin-Brown, coordinator at the Vail Valley Salvation Army.
Wolin-Brown said Salvation Army staffers are normally prepared for up to 500 families per month. “We are in good shape right now because households were working February and the first part of March,” Wolin-Brown said. “If we have 40 to 50 households a day coming in, we are definitely going to be running out of things, but I do encourage anyone who needs food to come by,” Wolin-Brown said.
Since Vail Resorts closed down its North American resorts last Saturday, Wolin-Brown said the company has been delivering food from restaurants to the Vail Valley Salvation Army.
“We got a delivery from the warehouse on Monday and a truckload from the Yurt at Arrowhead was delivered Wednesday. Vail Resorts will continue to bring food as space allows. We can only fit so much into our refrigerator and freezer space,” Wolin-Brown said. “We’re so thankful for this food at this time.”
The Vail Valley Salvation Army is also delivering boxes to those who are quarantined. “Some have the means to have the food delivered or friends and family to help, but for anyone who says they need it, we’re going to make sure they have it,” Wolin-Brown said. “We’re lucky to have Dan Smith leading this effort.”
“The Salvation Army is responsible for feeding persons in need who are quarantined statewide,” Smith said. “These persons are identified to us by Eagle County Public Health only by their address, not by name and we deliver them a weekly food box. This is all coordinated through the county’s Emergency Operation Center.”
“We’re anticipating that right now for 6 to 12 weeks we’ll need to deliver to up to 100-200 households that could be in isolation and quarantine,” Wolin-Brown said.
Despite the rush of folks in need, there are many who are looking to help. Vail Valley Cares, the United Way, Vail Rotary, churches, bible study groups, businesses, individuals and donors have been calling to see if there is anything they can do or if there is something they need. “People really want to help, which is a big contrast to hearing people stripping the stores and hoarding products,” Wolin-Brown said.
“We’ve asked for hand sanitizer since they were out of stock and we couldn’t get any at the store to keep our staff and clients safe.”
A few other things Wolin-Brown said the Salvation Army could use include shelf-stable milk, soup, produce, spaghetti sauce, canned fruit and veggies, macaroni and cheese, large bags of beans and rice. “It’s also good to have things for people who are without a kitchen. Maybe they are quarantined in a hotel room with only a microwave. So, we are looking for things that are easy to make with a microwave, too,” Wolin-Brown said.
Beyond food needs, Wolin-Brown worries about other needs the population will have due to businesses shutting down and reduced paychecks.
“What we’ve seen so far is an overwhelming amount of people coming for food. But if this lasts, there could be a lot more assistance required. I’m hoping people have already paid March rent,” Wolin-Brown said. The Salvation Army has assistance programs that help with monthly costs like rent, heat, utility, emergency prescription medications, gas and bus passes for transportation needs.
Wolin-Brown is optimistic about meeting the needs of the area. “The good news is we are in a very giving community.”
If you do have extra food that you want to donate, Wolin-Brown offered these guidelines:
- Do not donate anything expired or already opened.
- Produce is accepted.
- Only one member per household is allowed to pick up food at a time to comply with social distancing.
- Drop off at the front doorstep or call if you want someone to pick items curbside.
The Salvation Army is located at 322 East Beaver Creek Boulevard in Avon. Pantry hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.