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St. Vincent closes dining room, food pantry

St. Vincent de Paul has stopped serving lunch in its dining room and plans to close its food pantry Friday because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the organization handed out 125 sack lunches to people in need.

“We closed the dining room because we don’t want people close together,” said Rich Hansen with St. Vincent de Paul. “We’re trying to avoid crowds. We need to protect our volunteers.”

The organization will continue to hand out sack lunches between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. until health officials declare it’s safe for groups to gather again. Client mail will be distributed during lunch Tuesday and Thursday.

St. Vincent de Paul will respond to phone calls for emergency food on a case-by-case basis.

The Urban Rest Stop, which offers shower and laundry facilities, also has been closed.

An emergency family shelter remains open but no longer accepts new guests.

Other changes include not serving clients in offices starting Monday. Instead, St. Vincent’s social service team will attempt to respond to calls for emergency service at 541-772-3828. Counselors will field calls between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and can respond to any calls left after hours. Some of the concerns will be rent and utility relief as well as prescription drug payment assistance.

The Thrift Store and donation door remain open, operating on reduced hours, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. through 1 p.m..

“We’re trying to balance our work for the needy with the concern for our volunteers following the government and CDC instructions,” Hansen said. “We want to continue to feed the hungry.”

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Andy Burnett, left, Megan Burnett, 13, and Michelle Burnett, make a salad at St. Vincent de Paul's kitchen in this 2016 photo. Meals at the facility have been canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.Mail Tribune / file photo