QUINCY -- The news remains positive concerning an uninterrupted food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our supply chains remain in good shape," says Dan Veihl, who operates the Butcher Block in downtown Quincy.
Veihl said his business has returned to more of a regular pattern following a major spike during the early days of the outbreak.
For the most part, gone are the mid-March days of hoarding items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and various foodstuffs.
For Veihl, his most popular requests have been for meat bundles and related products.
"Our coolers and fridges are filled," he said. "There's no need for a panic."
The news is much the same for the area's two major supermarket chains, County Market and Hy-Vee.
"Things have slowed down quite a bit," said Terry Schoenekase, an assistant manager at the 4830 Broadway location of County Market. "It's much calmer now."
Schoenekase said County Market continues to try and keep shelves stocked, but certain items -- such as toilet paper -- remain at problem at times.
"Imagine that," said Schoenekase in tongue-in-cheek fashion, referencing the early days of the pandemic when there were runs on a variety of products -- especially toilet paper.
Schoenekase said hand sanitizer is arguably the most difficult product to acquire at the moment.
Prior to this writing, The Herald-Whig checked with six different outlets and none had any hand sanitizer on their shelves and all were uncertain when a new order might arrive.
"We've heard April, maybe June or July," Schoenekase said.
Christina Gayman, director of public relations for the Hy-Vee organization that is based in West Des Moines, Iowa, said there remains a high demand for toilet paper, thermometers, hand sanitizer and hand soap across the chain's 264-store, eight-state region.
Gayman said some items remain more in demand in specific areas.
"It all depends on the market," she said. "We're continuing to work with our suppliers, and we will continue to be open. We are constantly restocking and sending out supply trucks.
In Quincy, the two Hy-Vee supermarkets at 3700 Broadway and 1400 Harrison reduced their hours in mid-March to better be able to sanitize and re-stock their stores.
Charman said Hy-Vee stores have not recently experienced the rushes on food and other items that occurred in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"The stores appear to be less crowded now," she said.
Despite a relatively positive outlook tied to food supplies, there remains potential problems. Food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens face a daunting task trying to help those in need when most are forced to be shut down, have limited access and seeing donations to their cause(s) dwindle.
"These are unprecedented times in uncharted waters," said Sarah Stepohens, the executive director of Horizons Soup Kitchen near downtown Quincy.
At this point, Stephens has no idea when Horizons might be able to reopen. The soup kitchen will continue distributing carry-out meals in response to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's closing all Illinois restaurants due to COVID-19.
Stephens said Horizons is distributing hot meals from its 224 S. Eighth site from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Meals are distributed from the north door entrance off Eighth Street.
The Horizons food pantry is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Pre-bagged food donations will be distributed from the west door entrance. Adams County residents may visit the food pantry once every 30 days and only need to present a photo ID to participate.
"This is challenging," Stephens said. "We're hoping to reopen as soon as possible once restrictions are lifted. We're anxious to get back."
Donations remain a concern, especially since Horizons was forced to cancel a recent fundraiser. Horizons generates about 25% of its budget and relies on donors and local grants for the remainder of its funding.
Volunteers have also been a problem, according to Stephens, a former bank vice president and branch manager. Prior to the outbreak, most of Horizons' volunteer staff was elderly and now many of those individuals are self-quarantining.
Stephens remains positive, however, that Horizons will get through the pandemic. It has been operating since 2009, first inside St. John's Anglican Church at 701 Hampshire, and since 2015 at its South Eighth Street site.
"I'm always proud of our community and the way it steps up," Stephens said. "I think we're a lot better off than a lot of communities."
Donations to Horizons can be made my mail to 224. S. Eighth, Quincy IL 62301, or online at horizonsquincy.com.