COVID-19 forces Clarksville nonprofit Loaves and Fishes to delay expansion

Loaves and Fishes
Posted at 7:38 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 08:39:01-05

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Loaves and Fishes' new, 15,000-square-foot facility is still empty as COVID-19 delays the Clarksville nonprofit's expansion.

Loaves and Fishes, which works to serve hot meals to people in need, has been planning the new building for three years. The facility was supposed to have a soft opening last week, but that opening date has been pushed back.

"The end of Thanksgiving was kind of the target," said Tamara Long, the chair of the Loaves and Fishes Board of Directors.

Long said the delays are partly because the pandemic is causing supply shortages.

"We cant get chairs and tables fast enough, there's part of it," Long said. "Shelving, those kinds of odd things you don't really think about."

The nonprofit is also taking time to create a plan to safely use the facility. The building was intended to serve hundreds of people inside a cafeteria, something that isn't possible during the pandemic.

"A lot of the people we serve are what you consider high risk, we also have to think of our volunteers which are also high risk," Long said. "How do you do this in a safe manner and still get people fed?"

Since the start of the pandemic, Loaves and Fishes has been provided hot meals in a 'grab-and-go' format at its current location. The nonprofit typically serves about 150 people a day but has seen that number increase as the coronavirus has spread.

"We saw a dynamic jump of about 50% there in March," Long said.

Loaves and Fishes is now hoping to open its new building in early 2021, but Long said they'll be looking at CDC recommendations for Montgomery County, and the opening will depend on the status of the virus.