By Chad Ingram
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic a number of Haliburton County residents have been laid off of work and local food banks are experiencing an increase in demand.
“We anticipate demands (and costs) at the food bank are going to grow significantly” David Ogilvie chair of the board for the 4Cs Food Bank and Lily Ann told the paper in an email. “Sadly we made the decision to close the Lily Ann Thrift Store which is a significant source of our funding. We would ask people to hold off making drop offs until we are able to resume normal store operations.”
Ogilvie said demand at the food bank is up some 20 per cent.
“We have been busy with our regular clients plus a high percentage – over 20 per cent – of new clients and folk who have not used the food bank for many months” he wrote. “We expect this trend to ramp up until promised government plans start to take effect.”
The federal government has announced a series of financial aid measures to assist those whose income has been affected by the ongoing pandemic.
The 4Cs is currently maintaining its regular hours – open Tuesday Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – but has modified its operations to minimize human contact. Clients are not permitted to enter the food bank but rather are served one at a time from the door. Also rather than choosing foods for the time being food is coming in the form of pre-packed boxes.
“The distribution of the Good Food Box was delayed by a week this month and we are anticipating it will also continue as scheduled with a slightly modified pick up process” Ogilvie added.
At this time cash donations – which can be made online – are preferred over donations of actual food items. “At this time we would prefer cash as accepting food donations presents physical challenges” Ogilvie wrote.
“We have assisted five people who have lost their jobs” said Joanne Barnes manager of the Minden Community Food Bank. “ I expect this number to increase steadily beginning [this] week. No one is allowed into the facility. We fill the order and leave products loose in [a] shopping cart. We push it out the front door and clients pack their order. When [the] cart is empty we bring it just inside the door and sanitize it completely before using it again.”
“We are well stocked and also have a surplus of meals ready for whatever happens” Barnes said. “We continue with the highest number of clients in our history.”
More than 225 families rely on Minden’s food bank. It remains open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The phone number for the Minden Community Food Bank is 705-286-6838.
The Central Food Network operates the food banks in Wilberforce (the Highlands East Food Hub) and Cardiff as well as Heat Bank Haliburton County.
“The Central Food Network takes the health and safety of its volunteers staff and people accessing services very seriously” reads a statement from CFN. “We are mindful of the efforts being undertaken to stymie the spread of COVID-19 and our responsibility to aid in those efforts while also continuing to address food- and heat-insecurity in our community. With concerns growing about COVID-19 we wish to provide an update on our actions to date and our response plan.”
The existing hours at the Wilberforce and Cardiff food banks will remain in effect for existing members only. Anyone who is not a member but requires help with food is asked to call 705-448-9711.
For existing members service is transitioning to a hamper-style service where clients will be asked to wait outside while a volunteer provides them with a food hamper. Everyone is asked to remain at least two metres from one another and anyone feeling ill is asked not to attend the food banks but to call 705-448-9711 to discuss options.
SIRCH Community Services has provided frozen meals for a number of years through its Community Kitchen program but intends to ramp up production of those meals to assist county residents during the pandemic. Those meals will be delivered to local food banks and can also be picked up from SIRCH Central which is located at 2 Victoria St. in Haliburton Village next to the laundromat. SIRCH Central will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and meals can be picked up during that time.
“We will be using social distancing protocols to help keep people safe. We prepare and package the meals under the very strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure meals are prepared in compliance with the latest food-handling and sanitation guidelines” reads a release from SIRCH. “No one will be allowed inside the building. The meals will be put into bags and brought out to you.”
SIRCH has no base funding for the provision of these meals and is looking for community donations to continue providing the service. Donations can be made online at 22.sirch.on.on/donate with Visa or Mastercard or by phoning 705-457-1742 with either credit card. Cheques can be mailed to SIRCH Community Services at Box 687 Haliburton ON K0M 1S0. E-transfers can be made to