With the COVID-19 virus making its way to Onslow County, local nonprofits are taking preparations to continue helping those in need.
When it comes to children with higher risk of hunger, the CHEW (Children Health Eating on Weekends) program through United Way of Onslow County is monitoring information from Onslow County Schools on whether school buildings will shut their doors.
“We are closely monitoring the school system and what timeline they are looking at,” said United Way of Onslow County President Raquel Painter. “If it is a shorter timeframe we will continue operating normally. If it is long term, we will coordinate a delivery system for the backpacks.”
The CHEW program works with each school’s social workers to administer backpacks of easily prepared food for children who are at high risk of not eating over the weekend when they are not at school, according to their website.
As of right now, backpacks are delivered to the social workers at the schools for them to hand out. Painter added they will continue to coordinate with them to deliver backpacks at another location if needed.
Painter mentioned CHEW is in need of protein for the children in order to provide a more well rounded meal.
“We really want to get the children more nutritious meals that they normally don’t get. Items such as chicken packets, canned tuna, that is what we are short on right now,” said Painter.
The CHEW program is having a food drive this Saturday located at Walmart at 2025 N. Marine Blvd. in Jacksonville from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. looking mainly for those protein items, along with any other donations, according to Painter.
Onslow Community Outreach released a statement Friday afternoon on how they plan to continue food assistance, health services, and housing.
According to the release, these changes are temporary and are effective immediately.
OCO is suspending the cafeteria lunch setting, and will be providing to-go meals for those in need, while increasing their food truck distribution methods from every four days to two days, as well as host drive thru pantries, as stated in the release.
Residents interested in using the drive thru pantry will be required to stay inside their vehicles, according to the release. There is not a set place on where the drive thru pantry will be located according to Developmental Specialist Jessica Leon.
Leon explained OCO will also be using telemedicine in order to treat patients located at 200 Doctors Drive Suite L in Jacksonville.
“The clinic will reach out to the patients who are on the appointment schedule, and we certainly do not want to turn away anyone who is in need of medical attention,” said Leon. “If there is a case where we can provide that medical attention by using telemedicine then we will do so.”
Right now, Leon added they are working on using another waiting room for patients who are sick or having doctors coming out to the cars of patients in the parking lot.
Until March 30, the dental office located at 1 Dewitt Street in Jacksonville is closed, according to the release.
The 26-bed homeless shelter provides close encounters with neighboring clients at OCO, so now they will be providing temporary housing in order to allow social distancing, as stated in the release. As of Friday, Leon said OCO does not yet have a set place for the temporary housing.
Along with housing, Leon stated OCO will change their intake and case management services by using phone calls and remote services.
“We are trying to mitigate outside of the office as best we can, as well as asking for donations that will help us through this such as cleaning supplies and food,” added Leon.