DC's homeless shelters that house people at night have changed their hours to be open all day, so the homeless can remain there and shelter in place.
The only homeless men that are left at the McKenna Center are a group of ten men who sleep at the center during the hypothermia season, which is coming to a close as spring arrives.
"I think that this is actually a really good opportunity. These guys are more than happy to help us," Cox said.
In addition to scrubbing and deep cleaning the center's kitchen, the homeless men have been helping to make masks out of fabric to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
"And they felt good about that…these guys that are currently homeless, it really enhances their dignity for them to do something constructive."
There are about 120 low-income seniors who live within five blocks of the center, Cox said. The homeless men in the hypothermia program are helping to bag groceries to distribute to the center's neighbors.
The Capital Area Food Bank asked the McKenna Center to ramp up its food distribution by becoming a community hub, handing pre-made bags of groceries to DC residents who show up, with appropriate precautions taken for social distancing.
"To prepare the first 100 bags of groceries...the men in our hypothermia program helped make that happen," Cox said.
"They helped to bag the groceries and move them where we need them...it's terrific that they have this desire to help other people, and that we have this opportunity to give them something to do."
"We've ramped up our services tremendously"
Walter Ritz, director of HOPE Community Services in New Rochelle, New York, told CNA that the center typically runs a soup kitchen, almost five days a week, and food pantry open every other week.
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That was until New Rochelle became a relatively early epicenter of the virus in the United States. Most churches in the area had to suspend services nearly three weeks ago when Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 10 instituted a one-mile radius "containment zone" to try to stop the spread of the virus beyond a local synagogue.
Though the number of new COVID-19 cases has slowed since the restrictions were implemented, like in most parts of the country, places of worship- which typically provide many volunteers and donations for HOPE- remain shuttered.
"One of the biggest changes we've done is ramp up our services tenfold, in terms of our food pantry," Ritz said.
"We went from serving every other week to serving three times a week so that people have much more opportunity to come to us in this time of great need....Food insecurity is a major concern, and it's the last thing people need to be concerned about at this moment."
Instead of operating the food pantry once a day, like usual, HOPE is now serving every weekday, because other soup kitchens in the area had to close down.
"We've ramped up our services tremendously...we're fortunate to have the national guard here to help out, but it's just been a tremendous change for us."