This week the Louisa County Resource Council switched to a new schedule and opened new locations to reach the growing number of citizens who need extra help as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization’s facility on Resource Lane is now open until 6 p.m. on Thursdays, so people who work during the day can pick up food and other essentials afterwards. Staff and volunteers have also encouraged people to go to satellite food distribution sites at Jouett and Trevilians elementary schools and churches in the Gum Spring and Green Springs areas.
“We had noticed a significant increase in people who couldn’t get here during regular hours,” said Lloyd Runnett, resource council executive director. “One woman had to leave her frozen food behind because she [had to return to work].”
As the pandemic forced thousands of households to apply for state unemployment assistance in April, the number of monthly aid applications for the resource council’s Community Cupboard program jumped to 29. Since the spring, conditions have stabilized, with an average of 12 applications each month. There were 18 applications in April for the Grocery Assistance Program, for families who are just above the poverty level; the typical number who apply each month is seven.
Last spring, the resource council moved quickly to switch to a drive-through delivery system after fears of the coronavirus spread through the county. Later the council revamped that system so clients could pick up food from a window and put it in their cars themselves, to minimize the risk to volunteers.
Runnett and his staff have been looking for places to set up satellite distribution for some time. One church location was ruled out because many of the older people who frequent the site were especially vulnerable to getting sick.
The Jouett and Trevilians locations were already familiar to people who have children in Louisa County Public Schools, since the school system has used both for its community feeding and summer lunch program. As of this week, people can pick up food from the resource council at Jouett on the first four Tuesdays of each month, and at Trevilians on the third and fourth Thursdays. Both sites are open from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The other two sites, at Gum Spring United Methodist Church at 191 Cross County Road and at Mechanicsville Baptist Church at 10200 Louisa Road, are open on the second Tuesday and the first and second Thursday of each month, respectively. The Gum Spring location will operate from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and the Mechanicsville site, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Citizens who would like to register for food donations should call 540-967-1510. People who have household incomes below a certain threshold are eligible. The resource council also offers a “gap” program for families who are just above that threshold. Many of the people who signed up for aid since the pandemic began are in this category. In addition, Runnett said, an emergency program is available for people who find themselves in a bad situation, even if they would not otherwise qualify based on their income.
The resource council is now closed on Fridays, so regular food distribution is not available on those days. Staff are spending Fridays to deep clean their facilities and to focus on clothes and furniture donations at the warehouse. But again, Runnett emphasized, a family won’t be turned away if they show up in a desperate situation.
“Everybody who comes here is going to get food,” he said.