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STAFF PHOTO/BROOKE WILLIAMS Mission Coordinator Donna Shaffer helps prepare a meal at Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen in Tunkhannock.

Keeping up with its mission to provide meals for those in need, Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen in Tunkhannock remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic with takeout only.

“That is our mission, to serve the community. I’m very appreciative of the volunteers who are willing to still come out and as long as we still have volunteers, we will continue to do this until we can get back to normal service,” said Seven Loaves Mission Coordinator Donna Shaffer.

On March 16, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the shutdown of all non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania, saying restaurants should only provide takeout and delivery services.

The dining room of Seven Loaves is closed until further notice, but people could stop by the entrance area Monday through Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. to pick up takeout dinners.

Volunteers have been ramping up existent cleanliness standards at the soup kitchen with an increased focus on hand washing, changing gloves often and sanitizing all surfaces.

Additionally, Shaffer added that frequently touched areas such as light switches and doors have been sanitized several times per day.

Seven Loaves volunteers have also been encouraging regular hand washing with the public, as well as maintaining a safe distance as people wait in line for food.

On an average night, Seven Loaves sees around 50 guests, Shaffer said. Throughout the first three nights of offering takeout only, numbers stayed in the mid 30s to high 40s.

There are no income requirements to enjoy a meal at Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen.

“We never turn anyone away,” Shaffer said.

Seven Loaves has also set up a table in its entryway for food pantry donations as they become available.

“We will pass out what we have, but we’re not letting anyone inside,” she said.

Seven Loaves still accepts monetary donations during this time by mail to 51 Warren Street, Tunkhannock, PA 18657, or online at sevenloaveskitchen.org. Anyone wishing to donate items should call 570-996-5005 after 3 p.m. on weekdays to coordinate the details.