VISTO and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County are working together to provide food to families struggling with job loss or other crises as the spread of the new coronavirus spurs business and school shutdowns.

Volunteers In Service To Others, Cooke County’s food pantry, is expecting increased demand for its help, according to a press release sent by Executive Director Bekki Jones.

“Access to healthy food is so important all the time, particularly when people need to be thinking about boosting their immune systems,” the release stated. “We want people to know we are here. There is no need for them to be missing meals or sacrificing their health when they can reach out to us for help.”

The pantry and Boys and Girls Club leadership are considering how to reduce in-person interaction as recommended to mitigate the virus’s spread, which may change how food is distributed, according to the release. However, it’s still seeking volunteers to help in small groups with food box preparations and is accepting monetary donations and high-quality foodstuffs to augment its pantry stock.

Monetary donations can be used to purchase food from the area food bank at about 10% of market value, according to the release, allowing the pantry to “get more bang for our buck.”

However, donations of the following items are also recommended: canned fruits, vegetables, meat and fish; whole grain, low-sugar cereal like instant oatmeal; whole grain or enriched pasta or rice; and spaghetti sauce, salsa or canned beans.

“It is important to remember that donated food is most helpful if it is both safe and high quality,” the release stated. “What does high quality look like? Make sure to check the dates of the packages of food you donate, and the donated food should not be opened.”

VISTO, 1401 Southland Drive, is open 8 a.m. to noon weekdays and food will be distributed by curbside pickup. Those needing to pick up food should call to make an appointment, then call again upon arrival to let staff know they can carry the food out to the car. Those picking up food are being asked to pop the trunk lid to help minimize person-to-person interactions.

VISTO will also hold a drive-thru mobile pantry each Wednesday at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County, 315 N. Denton St. The mobile pantry will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be available to anyone in Cooke County in need of more food.

For more information, call VISTO at 940-668-6403 or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County at 940-665-6527.

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