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Food Bank Coordinator Shares Her Experience As An Essential Worker

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To get us through this crisis, some people must leave the comfort of their homes and go out into the world to take care of business. They're our essential workers.

KATE BUDD: My name is Kate Budd. I work at Food Bank of the Rockies. I run our mobile pantry program. We have our mobile semitrucks go to different standing sites throughout the month and distribute food.

It is 10:40 a.m. on Friday, and there is currently a gas leak, which has thrown a wrench in our operations. We're trying to get ready for our Monday distribution, and we're currently all evacuated outside. So hopefully we can get back as soon as possible.

Once March rolled around and everything started changing, I found myself extending and everyone at the food bank just extending themselves outside of their normal operating procedures. The main change has just been - at least for me with mobile pantries - has been the surge in clients.

It is 9:13 a.m. We are about to get started with our big distribution that we've been getting ready for for the past couple weeks. It is silent now, but it's about to get a lot louder. And we're about to distribute over a hundred thousand pounds.

We receive large donations, small donations. But unfortunately, our donations from retail partners have dropped significantly, whereas our daily donations have gone up, but they're a bit more inconsistent and do reflect smaller numbers.

We have just started letting our cars in for our big distribution. We're mobilizing all of our volunteers.

A lot of my fear is for my volunteers and for our clients. When I go on mobile pantry sites now, I just can't really think about it. I have an obligation to serve the community. It is hard. It's really hard. I'm not going to lie.

We have just wrapped up with our final few cars. Our drivers are starting to load up the trucks. Unfortunately, we had quite a large turnout, and we weren't able to serve everyone who showed up. But we did serve over 2,000 families, and we're looking forward to our next mobile pantry, just another day.

KELLY: Essential worker Kate Budd. She's a mobile pantry coordinator for Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.