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TEXARKANA — Food that was expected to last for months at Harvest Regional Food Bank is quickly being used as a result of schools closing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We are using inventory that was meant to last us for months. Now it might last just a few weeks," said Camille Wrinkle, Harvest Regional Food Bank executive director. "Right now, we can use volunteers, donations of food and monetary donations. For every dollar we receive, we can turn that into five and a half meals."

Over the last few days, volunteers have been offering assistance in packing extra emergency backpacks for children, as well as family and senior food boxes. Harvest is scheduling two-hour shifts with a max of 30 volunteers per shift.

Shifts this week will be from 10 a.m. to noon, noon to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"We serve clients of all ages but there is a particular need right now for school kids with all of the recent school closings," Wrinkle said.

Harvest is working with school districts and pantries. Backpacks for children include foods to supplement meals for a couple of days. Food boxes being prepared by volunteers can supplement a family's nutrition for close to a month, Wrinkle said.

"It will not provide every meal but will supplement things. The boxes will include bottles of juice, packages of rice and beans, things like that," she said. "We probably have about 1,000 boxes."

On Monday, students with the Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department's PRIDE Academy packed hundreds of emergency backpacks for children, along with families, and senior food boxes.

Wrinkle said all volunteers have their temperatures checked before they volunteer. There is also a handwashing station.

"This is a completely different challenge. No one has budgeted for this and we don't know what we are going into. But that's what we are here for. We are taking a leap of faith and hoping the community pulls together," Wrinkle said.

For more information, visit harvestregionalfoodbank.org.

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