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As coronavirus continues, Atlanta nonprofit distributing increased number of meals

The Department of Agriculture has been pushing a program to buy local.

As coronavirus brought much of Georgia to a halt this spring and summer, it increased the output at an Atlanta nonprofit.

Since the pandemic took hold, Open Hand Atlanta has ramped up its efforts in order to respond to the increased need for meals from people across the state.

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As of June 21, the nonprofit which “prepares, packs and delivers” thousands of meals a day, had shipped nearly 15,000 meals to food insecure individuals in southwest Georgia.

“The effects of this pandemic will continue to reverberate through our rural communities for some time to come,” the nonprofit wrote on its Facebook page. “Food insecurity, particularly among those who were already among the most vulnerable, has already reached record levels in many parts of the state – including southwest Georgia. With your help, Open Hand can continue to support communities such as these in dire need of our services.”

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Of course, the pandemic meant that the nonprofit had to rethink how it did things. Since the demand for deliveries is greater for homebound individuals in need, volunteers have handled the drop offs, while staff members work in the kitchen packaging the meals.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Open Hand was focused on serving people within the metro Atlanta area, but they have since expanded their scope. While they previously served around 5,000 meals a day in a 19 county area, that amount has now reached more than 6,1000 meals a day across more than 40 counties, according to reporting from 11Alive.

"We didn't have the luxury of shutting our doors and taking a hiatus," Matt Pieper, Open Hand executive director, told the TV station. "That meant making some drastic changes. No longer allowing volunteers in the building, limiting participation to delivery."