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Food banks seek hygiene supplies amid Washington coronavirus outbreak

Northwest Harvest's SODO Community Market is maintaining its usual food supply, but hopes donors can give items such as hand sanitizer to help families in need.

SEATTLE — As far as food goes, Northwest Harvest's SODO Community Market has been at its normal levels.

But the nonprofit, which runs a statewide network of food banks, hopes that donors can expand their gifts to include hygiene items such as hand sanitizer to help protect families in need amid the local outbreak of COVID-19.

"We want to make sure that people who experience hunger and experience low-income have the same types of things that other people in society are buying for themselves," Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds told KING 5.

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Reynolds said that the food bank has seen an increased need for its services as school districts have canceled in-person classes to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Many families who need the help of a food bank also rely on school lunch and breakfast programs to help keep their kids fed.

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Northwest Harvest has also been trying to help patrons and families with the recommended social distancing by helping them come to the food bank less often.

"People want to reduce the number of visits, so we’re helping people take a little bit more," Reynolds said.

Seattle-area food banks also have reported a shortage of volunteers. Some food banks have asked many of their usual volunteers to stay home if they are senior citizens — a population that has an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

RELATED: Food banks experience volunteer shortage as coronavirus spreads in Washington

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