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A sign at St. Mary Outreach in Morgan City informs the public on how to reach the agency during Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home mandate to help curb COVID-19’s spread. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)

Feeding the hungry: St. Mary Outreach makes changes due to virus

St. Mary Outreach still is providing services to its customers, although hours have been limited in response to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ mandate to stay at home due to COVID-19.
Brenda Liner, St. Mary Outreach executive director, said the agency currently is conducting “faceless interviews.”
That means clients can come to the office (608 First St., Suite 102 in Morgan City) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursdays for supplies. However, at those times, clients must stay in their cars and call 985-385-4551 to speak with someone about their needs.
“We’ll do an interview over the phone, and then I’ll have my guy in our food bank put their stuff out on a table,” Liner said.
Once the food is set out on a table outside, Liner will instruct the caller to go and pick up their supplies.
“So we have no face-to-face contact interaction,” Liner said.
She stressed that customers should stay in their cars and practice social distancing with any other customers or staff.
On any other day that employees are not at St. Mary Outreach, Liner said she can be contacted via a message on the organization’s Facebook page where she will set up an appointment for them to come to the office.
So far, Liner said her agency has not had an uptick in need for services, although the months of February through April are slow times for St. Mary Outreach as residents typically are receiving their income tax payments.
“So we haven’t really been as busy as you would think it would be,” Liner said.
With Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits approved more quickly for new people and a quicker turnaround on unemployment check distributions now, people are getting their money quicker, too, Liner said.
However, still some items are scarce for the agency, such as bread. She said they haven’t been able to get any for the last two weeks, and they don’t have flour, either.
Liner said her provider has had trouble securing items such as bleach and disinfectant, too.
“So it just depends on how long this goes on of what we can get in,” she said.
While St. Mary Outreach will take any nonperishable food items from the public, Liner said the main items they need right now are bread and powdered milk.
“We are not taking any clothing donation, anything like that,” she said. “We are only taking food donations and monetary donations right now.”
Those wishing to donate can come on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or on Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. to drop off items. Upon arrival, they should call St. Mary Outreach at 985-385-4551 and let them know they are placing a donation on the table, so St. Mary Outreach can get the item after donors leave.

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