This blog post is part of an ongoing series that aim to assist youth service providers in their COVID-19 response efforts. For more information and resources, please visit TNOYS’ blog, or visit the COVID-19 resource page.
Over the last week, TNOYS facilitated calls with stakeholders, members, and government agencies to understand how youth services are responding to the current public health crisis and learn about the challenges they are facing. Due to various factors including but not limited to closed schools, disrupted food supply chains, and product limits and/or availability at grocery stores, emergency shelters, and other residential facilities are having difficulty procuring bulk groceries for their youth and young adult residents.
The following are resources for bulk purchasing of groceries. Additionally, for facilities following USDA meal pattern requirements, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is offering waivers if you cannot meet requirements due to the availability of products etc.
TNOYS will update as additional resources are available.
If your organization normally purchases from a grocery store, consider using food distributor suppliers for direct delivery. Some statewide distributors include:
- Sysco The large distributor may be delayed in onboarding new customers, but facilities can start the process online.
- LaBatt Another large food distributor with a promise to get back to new customers in one business day. Facilities should sign up on their website to be a new customer.
- US Foods Large foodservice distributor serving restaurants, hospitality, healthcare, and education sectors. US Foods has seen a decline in business due to restaurant closures leading to a reduction in their workforce which could mean wait times. However, they are also looking for new customers
Many communities also have smaller, family-owned produce distributors that may be easier to contact and start getting immediate deliveries depending on the business.
Restaurant Bulk Retail and Packages
As shelter-in-place orders are initiated across Texas, restaurants are losing their dining rooms and in need of new customers. Some restaurants are donating meals, while others are setting up temporary grocery stores.
Comfort Food Care Packages A new initiative from the Governors Public Safety Office, Family and Youth Success Programs (former “STAR” program), Texas Restaurant Association, and Favor Delivery encourages the public to donate meals from local restaurants to those in need – including emergency shelters. Each care package contains enough food to feed 5 to 6 people and will be delivered to recipients where they live. Folks seeking meals, including shelters, should reach out to their local Family and Youth Success program provider to be connected to this resource. You can identify your local provider using this resource.
Restaurants and other food distributors have also been authorized to sell “bulk retail” to provide another access point to groceries for the public. Restaurant participation and selection will vary by business. Facilities are encouraged to reach out to local restaurants or food distribution businesses in their community to learn about current operations and/or develop new partnerships. At this time, there is not a comprehensive statewide list of what businesses are offering bulk retail, but you may be able to find out more at a local level.
Food Bank Support
Feeding Texas is the statewide network of food banks serving all 254 Texas counties. Enter your zip code on their website to find the contact information of the closest member food bank. They can offer assistance to find the nearest food pantry for food assistance at no cost. Food banks may have delayed responses due to their own increase in clients and disruptions in food supply, however, they also have aligned missions and supply chain infrastructure already in place to assist organizations.
Local farms usually rely on various selling channels, the majority of which have been upended with the spread of COVID 19. Therefore, they may have products that they need to sell immediately and at a reduced cost.
GoTexan is a website from the Texas Department of Agriculture of all certified farmers’ markets in the state. TNOYS recommends identifying and reaching out to your local farmers’ market to connect with farmers and ranchers that have a produce surplus. Availability of products will depend on seasonality and grower.
Instok: Use this website to find out if a store in your area has a specific item in stock. The website application pulls inventory data from chain stores to assess whether or not an item is in stock. The user can search by items needed and the site returns specific product information from a variety stores. This resource is helpful if you are in need of specific grocery items.
Boxed: Think Costco, but online. Bulk purchasing with free shipping over $49, no membership fees, invoicing, and other perks for businesses. The website warns that deliveries may be delayed past the normal 2-day delivery span due to increased demand.
TNOYS is committed to providing up to date guidance and information relevant to Texas youth service providers as we all experience the rapidly changing landscape we are all navigating as a result of COVID-19. This blog post is part of a blog series detailing relevant information to assist youth service providers as they respond to this ongoing crisis. Below, please find TNOYS’ COVID-19 resource page, and other helpful blog posts:
- Resources and Information on COVID-19
- How to Access Hand Sanitizer and Masks for Your Organization
- Accessing Meal Assistance for Families in Need
- Activities and Projects for Youth in Shelters or RTCs during COVID-19
- Youth and COVID-19: Balancing Safety with Independence
If you have questions or information you would like to share with the TNOYS network, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.