CUMMING, Ga. — “We're still open as usual, just in a bit of a different way,” Jacob Granados, the Director of Purposeful Engagement at The Place, said Tuesday. “We have moved to a pre-made bag system now. It’s more of a drive-thru. We're not allowing clients into the building except to take showers.”

The Place Of Forsyth County has always prided itself on allowing clients to come into the pantry and pick out what they need, Granados said. But, in an effort to “flatten the curve,” the workers have temporarily closed the pantry, and are instead loading the food into bags. The thrift store has also been closed which Granados said is the main revenue generator. To top it all off, he said there is a higher than usual demand for food.

“Normally in a month we'll see 40 to 60 new clients in our food pantry alone,” he said. “This first week of schools being out, we've had over 64 families come into our pantry for the first time. So we are working at capacity and beyond.”

Despite everything, the staff is still working tirelessly, not just filling the bags with food, but also delivering them on a regular basis.

“Yesterday, we were at Cumming Elementary School,” Granados said. “Today, we’ll be at Brandywine Elementary, and tomorrow we’ll be at Chestatee [Elementary] to allow these families to get food.”

He said there are two types of bags – one with normal non-perishable items like rice and mashed potatoes, and another kid-friendly bag with things like ramen and mac n cheese. All bags also include canned goods, fresh produce, and frozen meats, Granados said. More than 800 bags of food have been given out in just the last week, he said, so help is needed.

“In any situation like this, especially a natural disaster or when there's a widespread response or an emergency, financial contributions are always the best way to help nonprofits,” Granados said. “That's not just for us, that's true for any nonprofit. Funds give organizations the flexibility, the agility to address needs as they arise, to get what they need, without being overrun with stuff they might not need. So that's always the best option. We still need food. Right now, our main needs are pasta, pasta sauces, cereal, hamburger helper, ramen, and boxed milk, not gallons of milk, but the shelf-safe stable cardboard boxes of milk. Those are easily packaged, and they last longer. They don't have to be refrigerated right away.”

He said the workers are doing everything they can to continue serving the community, and he’s thankful for all the help.

“The Place has been around the county since 1975. We will be 45 this year,” Granados said. “We've been committed to serving this county for the duration of the time we've been here, and we remain committed to being a prime source of assistance, even in this crisis. We thank the community so much for the support over the past 45 years, but especially now as so many have rallied behind us to help out those who are really struggling because of the crisis. So thank you all very much.”

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