The Houston Food Bank is calling on volunteers to help pack quarantine food kits that might need to be used in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus.
The food bank announced Monday that it is seeking volunteers to work in a variety of shifts at its headquarters at 535 Portwall St. Those shifts are from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Sunday. Volunteers can sign up by registering online at houstonfoodbank.org.
“The nonprofit is asking for help because the population they serve, almost by definition, does not have reserves of food in the event of service disruptions/closures,” Paula Murphy of Patterson & Murphy Public Relations said in an email on behalf of the food bank. “These boxes are not yet being requested, but the food bank wants to be ready in the event there is a need due to COVID-19 occurrences in their service area.”
A total of 12 people in the Houston area have tested positive for the new coronavirus — two in Houston, four in unincorporated northwest Harris County and six in Fort Bend County — according to local health officials. All 12 are between 60 and 70 years old and recently traveled on the same cruise ship in Egypt.
According to information on the Harris County Public Health website, more than 113,000 people around the world have contracted the disease, with the initial outbreak in China in December, and more than 560 cases have been identified in the United States. COVID-19 has led to nearly 4,000 deaths globally, with more than 62,000 people having recovered from the disease.
According to Monday’s news release, the Houston Food Bank has increased its frequency of cleaning and disinfecting, especially around high-traffic areas such as restrooms, meeting rooms, elevators and areas for food and volunteers.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are counting on the organization and its partners now, and this need will only heighten if the COVID-19 situation worsens,” the release said. “… Houston Food Bank intends to remain in operation using the best available safety protocols throughout any COVID-19 impact.”