Meals on Wheels Montgomery County said in a March 13 letter to staff its home-delivered meals program has been the least affected of its programs since the region began to respond to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. However, the organization is taking measures to ensure cross-contamination does not occur during meal delivery. Executive Director Summer Day said its three congregate centers—in The Woodlands, Magnolia and New Caney—are closed, and only the East County facility in New Caney has identified clients that will need supplementary nourishment. Those will be delivered through Precinct 4 Commissioner James Mett’s office, according to the organization.
The letter stated the outbreak has had a greater effect on the the MOWMC transportation department, as more clients are staying at home and not using public transportation.
As residents and businesses in south Montgomery County adjust to recent declarations of emergency at the county and state level, community organizations are working to maintain current services where possible or gauging how to reschedule events in the upcoming weeks.
"We currently are not changing the way we serve our clients [and] Montgomery County neighbors in need," said Lauren DeGeorgio, marketing and communications director for Montgomery County Food Bank. "We work closely with our partner agencies and school districts to serve our clients, and COVID-19 has only strengthened that partnership. The health and safety of our partners, clients, volunteers and staff is always our No. 1 priority. As a precaution, we have increased our on-site cleaning regimen to mitigate risk—specifically, workstations and public spaces."
The food bank collects and supplies food and resources to more than 35,000 people each month.
DeGeorgio said the food bank is monitoring the situation closely and working with other area food organizations, including Houston Food Bank and the Feeding America network, and looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidelines and protocols. It also has a tool on its website for people who need food assistance to find a pantry near them.
Another local food resource, The Woodlands Farmers Market, which is held at Grogans Mill Shopping Center on Saturdays, has suspended the next two weeks of events due to social distancing recommendations from Montgomery County, according to posts on social media.
In a Facebook post, farmers market organizers stated, "At this time, closing the market for [two] weeks is the best course of action due to heightened concerns around coronavirus. Again, there is no specific concern regarding [the farmers market]. We will send another email to update closer to March 28."
A Twitter post echoed the message.
The Woodlands Farmers Market will be CLOSED March 14 & 21, 2020
The decision is based in part on the latest recommendations for social distancing and the Montgomery County Disaster Declaration for Covid-19 issued by Montgomery County Judge Keough. pic.twitter.com/LisfwUwtEP
— TW Farmers Market (@twfarmersmarket) March 13, 2020
However, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce plans to continue with its scheduled events.
"We are going to continue to do our events going forward because they are smaller events, they are not over the 250-person threshold set by the county," chamber President J.J. Hollie said in a phone interview March 13. "We’re going to take an immense number of precautions to protect people."
Precautions include making hand sanitizer available throughout events and signage encourage people to observe proper hygiene practices. Events with food will have servers dishing out items so that utensils are not shared, he said. Events will also be limited to 75 people, he said.
"This area ... has gone through some real challenges," Hollie said. "But we always make it through to the other side, and we regroup, we adjust, we make the changes that we need to, and we always come out on the other side and, in a lot of cases, better."
Editor's note: This is an evolving story and will be continuously updated as more information from area organizations becomes available.