John Tindall, Montgomery County Food Bank director of volunteers, said volunteer capacities are being limited to 27 people per shift from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. in accordance with coronavirus safety guidelines.
"That's 10 in each of our large sort rooms and seven in our produce rescue center," Tindall said. "In an ideal world, we would have all 27 spots filled for each of the shifts."
According to a press release, the food bank had been receiving help from 44 Texas National Guard troops as part of the state's response to coronavirus. However, the troops' agreement to help expired July 16 following the end of an order from Gov. Gregg Abbott.
"Being activated to help with the COVID[-19] pandemic was a shock to me, but even more so, [it] was a shock to help out my hometown,” said Lt. Andrew Taylor of the DCo 536th BSB TX Army National Guard in the press release. “I grew up in Montgomery County, and to be able to give my time and expertise back into the community that allowed me to become the person I am today is very impactful. I now know the importance of the Montgomery County Food Bank and the need in this community. My team and I are very grateful to be able to serve right alongside these food bank warriors."
Tindall said there is an increased demand for volunteers now that the troops are gone, and the core volunteer group for the food bank is generally individuals age 55 and up, an age group that is among the most susceptible for coronavirus.
"We still need to get the food organized, sorted and boxed properly to get out to the 35,000 people in the county that we feed every month," Tindall said. "We also have an increased demand for our mobile markets, which are outdoor volunteer projects throughout the county to help distribute the products in the field."
Those who wish to volunteer can sign up on the food bank's website. Volunteers are asked to be 14 days symptom-free from coronavirus, to answer a brief questionnaire when arriving for a shift, to take part in a temperature screening and to wash their hands. All visitors to the food bank are required to wear masks as well.
Over the past three months, the Montgomery County Food Bank has distributed 4.1 million pounds of food as compared to the 1.5 million pounds it distributed in the same time frame in 2019.