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RICHARDSON – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for critical services like food, clothing and rental assistance at the Network of Community Ministries in Richardson has grown.  A total of 170 families were seeking food assistance every week and now the agency serves 150 families a day.

During the organization’s “State of the Network,” a virtual town hall meeting, leaders talked about the changing needs of the community as they quickly learn best practices for serving amid COVID-19.

The Network used to receive six pallets of food from the North Texas Food Bank, it now receives 60.  The boxes of food are stored in hallways, in conference rooms and in spaces used to store toys and clothes.  The boxes are also in storage units.

“You’re just seeing food and clothes, but we have job resource counseling, we have case management programs, financial assistance and while we’ve been doing a lot of that remotely, we know the demand is there that people will eventually need to come back in and see us and we need to connect with them in that way,” said Cindy Shafer, CEO of the Network of Community Ministries.

Since there is hardly any space for clients to brown for clothes inside the Network’s main offices, there are ideas to better serve the community safely under CDC guidelines including putting inventory on a website where clients can order online. There’s even talk about the possibility of a new building.

“We know that having things packed in like this, that’s not the way we want to greet people, that’s not the way we want to serve people. So, as we move forward, as we know the need is going to grow over the next few months as people continue to be unemployed looking for jobs. We are on a quest and on a search to find a better place and a better way for us to do operations,” she said.

The public is invited to participate in “State of the Network,” a second town hall meeting on Thursday June 18th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Input gathered at the meeting can help the Network shape the next steps in its future.

To sign up for the virtual town hall, fill out the form here: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5637440/State-of-Network-Zoom-Town-Hall

Visit www.thenetwork.org for more information on the services provided at the Network of Community Ministries.