By Bobinec, Greg on March 17, 2020.
The Lethbridge Food Bank, Interfaith Food Bank and MyCityCare are banding together to co-ordinate emergency food services for the community’s most vulnerable citizens, as Lethbridge continues to battle the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The partnership will co-ordinate services, maximize resources and provide the most effective and efficient support to our community as everyone navigates through the crisis. Emergency food assistance is their top priority and is seen as an essential service to the community. For the time being, Lethbridge Food Bank, Interfaith Food Bank and MyCityCare will be suspending programs, workshops and activities not related to primary services, and focusing all efforts on ensuring that community members have enough to eat.
“We are open,” says Danielle McIntyre, Interfaith Food Bank. “Our first priority is to keep food on the table for local citizens in need, especially in a situation like this where our community needs us most.”
Many food bank users are vulnerable citizens with health challenges and other issues that will compound the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Agencies are implementing safety precautions and activities to encourage social distancing, hygiene and cleaning procedures as recommended by Health Canada and Alberta Health Services. Food banks will allow existing clients to designate an alternate to pick up their hampers if they are ill or self-isolating.
Agencies are expecting to experience challenges with both supply and workers. Current panic has resulted in empty shelves at grocery stores as well as limited donations, despite the fact the government has assured Canadians that the supply chain is not in jeopardy.
“With the recent COVID-19 development, our organizations have witnessed a substantial drop in donations and are anticipating this could continue over the coming weeks,” says Maral Kiani Tari, executive director of Lethbridge Food Bank. “This is an unprecedented time for our agencies and we need the support of our community more than ever to serve our most vulnerable population.”
Human resources are also affected, as the majority of food bank volunteers are senior citizens, persons with disabilities, or form groups that have cancelled programming due to the outbreak, such as schools and faith-based organizations. Agencies encourage those who are well, and may be temporarily unable to work or attend school due to closures, to offer their time to help with emergency food services.
“In this time, more than anything, we need community,” says Jen Tribble, MyCityCare. “Our agencies are going to be affected dramatically in the coming days. Many of our volunteers are within the vulnerable sectors and we can’t put them at risk. We need people to step up and help serve our communities; we are better and stronger together. MyCityCare will continue to provide emergency hampers and household essentials to the community, try to fill holes where we can, and allocate extra resources to the crisis as it unfolds in our city.”
In a time of isolation and social distancing, local food banks and human resources are in desperate need of resources to help support the most vulnerable citizens in our community, and dedicated volunteers to help their operations run smoothly. For donation and volunteer information for Interfaith Food Bank, visit interfaithfoodbank.ca, Lethbridge Food Bank at lethbridgefoodbank.ca, and MyCityCare at myvictory.ca/my-city-care.
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