The Meaford Food Bank and Outreach (formerly Golden Town Outreach) has been advised to be well stocked and ready this winter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The advice from Feed Ontario, and other associated agencies is to be prepared for an increase in demand, according to President Nellie Greb.
“It’s complicated,” Greb said. “With certain items, we have more on hand than we have ever had. Whereas we normally have 300 ValuMart donated grocery bags, we now have 2,300. But we have been warned to be prepared for the winter.”
The warnings are based on several factors. The public has been generous during COVID-19. However if donor fatigue sets in, donations are apt to decline. At the same time, as summer seasonal employment ends and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program draws to a close, the demand for relief items could increase.
To date, the food bank and outreach staff and volunteers have been able to keep up with demand. They partnered again this year with United Way Owen Sound and delivered 54 back-to-school backpacks filled with personal care items and supplies to students in need. They have been pre-packaging hampers for clients. They have been offering fresh produce from the community gardens on a pay-as-you-go basis twice a week during the summer.
The safety of staff and volunteers is a priority during COVID-19. Normally clients would go into the food bank and choose what they need, but now the hampers are pre-packaged. “It’s fine,” said Greb. “There have been no complaints, but I miss the interaction with our clients.”
Donations to the Meaford Food Bank and Outreach can be delivered to 34 Trowbridge Street West in Meaford during food bank hours, Mondays, 9:30-11:30 a.m., and Thursdays, 5:30-7:30 p.m., or by contacting Co-ordinator Julie White at 519-538-4550.
Photo: L-R: Meaford Food Bank and Outreach Co-ordinator Julie White and President Nellie Greb distribute food bank items at the entrance to the Church of Nazarene.