We at Three Square are committed to providing you with updates regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Since my last update a week ago, the situation has worsened dramatically:
- The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Clark County now stands at 869.
- As of March 21, Nevada’s unemployment claims skyrocketed from about 6,400 before the shutdown to over 93,000—a 1,400% increase, the highest in the nation.
- Three Square’s “Get Help” webpage has seen a 2,000% increase in inquiries.
Three Square has established a Coronavirus Emergency Food Fund, which is allowing us to quickly respond and serve those affected by illness, quarantines, school closures, layoffs, furloughs, and other economic hardships. We have to ensure we are ready to help however we can, and that we are nimble in our daily response to the extraordinary events now facing us.
On March 11, 2020, Three Square implemented a disaster response plan that reflects the sudden and drastic declines in retail food donations, social distancing limitations on volunteer efforts, reduced on-site staff support, and the need for low-contact food distributions. I am happy to share with you that, even with our streamlined emergency operations, we have increased food distribution from one million pounds a week to over 1.3 million pounds.
We have also increased the number of phone lines at The Three Square Call Center from 9 to 16 in order to refer more people to available food resources and other social services. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the Call Center received an average of 15,000 calls per month; last week we received 7,000 calls in two days.
Meanwhile, we are still working to lift restrictions on some meal programs, including those serving seniors and children. Since the Clark County School District shut down, Three Square has made up some of the resulting meal gap, in addition to the meals provided to children and families through our food bank operations. We are currently serving approximately 30,000 food-insecure seniors through a combination of mobile food distributions and home-delivered groceries. All emergency food assistance related to the COVID-19 medical and economic crisis has thus far been made possible through private donations of food and cash.
Three Square has moved all volunteer activities off-site, where food can be safely sorted, packed and distributed in open air and spaces large enough to accommodate social distancing. Volunteers and staff who have been exposed to the coronavirus or experienced any symptoms of illness must, of course, stay home. However, the continued support of all healthy staff and volunteers is critically important to Three Square.
At Three Square, there is no higher priority than the safety of our volunteers, staff and the community we serve. Keeping a clean facility and following best practices for food safety are part of our culture. Since the onset of COVID-19, we have taken extra precautions, including increased cleaning and sanitizing of our facility. We are following the guidance of the CDC, local and state health agencies. Feeding America is also offering guidance specific to food banks.
The need for food in our community was already high. The economic impact of COVID-19 has increased that need beyond what we could have imagined. Many are looking to Three Square for assistance, leadership and comfort. Thanks to the support of our incredible network of supporters, volunteers and partners, we are here for them. Our community has been tested before and emerged stronger. We will again.
On behalf of Three Square and the people we are privileged to serve, thank you. I wish you and all those dear to you good health, strength, and fortitude as we weather the storm.
President and CEO