By Paula Ebben

MANSFIELD (CBS) – Keeping the supply of food flowing to the most needy is forcing food pantries to adapt to the realities of the coronavirus. Our Daily Bread in Mansfield is turning into a “drive-thru.”

The need doesn’t stop because of COVID-19, and food pantries can’t either. “Our food pantry has been a food pantry of choice, meaning that our clients have been able to come into the food pantry in the past and choose off the shelves what they would like,” says Chrissy Goldman of Our Daily Bread pantry.

That shopping experience is over for now at Our Daily Bread, a pantry that provides free food to low income Mansfield residents. Now they’re also serving up social distancing. “The Mansfield food pantry has moved now to a fully drive-thru model,” Goldman says.

Volunteers load car at Our Daily Bread food pantry in Mansfield (WBZ-TV)

Last year a thousand people took home more than 16,000 bags of groceries from the pantry. Now those people won’t be able to go inside. Instead they’ll drive up and receive pre-packed bags of food.

“We have them unlock the trunk,” Goldman said. “A volunteer will say ‘would you like bread, would you not like bread.'” Then that will be added to food bags that are ready to be loaded into a client’s car.

“We can ensure that we’re getting the people the food they need and that they want, and we’re keeping our volunteers and clients safe,” said Goldman.

That’s crucial to this all volunteer operation, and so are donations of money and food. “We’re looking particularly for cereal, snacks and peanut butter. We’re running low on those right now,” Goldman said.

The food pantry is located in a wing of the Congregational Church of Mansfield. We learned an interesting historical fact about that building. During the flu epidemic of 1918 the church became a field hospital of sorts with tents set up outside to care for patients.

The pantry is open from 9-11am on Saturday, March 28.

Paula Ebben