As many Semiahmoo Peninsula residents find themselves out of work – and conserving their resources – due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sources Food Bank has issued a plea for donations of both food and cash.
Jaye Murray, manager of Sources food bank in White Rock/South Surrey, said that while it’s unclear at this point how sharply demand for service will rise in the coming weeks, donations to grocery-store bins have already dropped noticeably.
On Monday, Sources issued a request on its Facebook page for donations of rice, oats, canned meat and tuna – as well as other shelf-stable proteins – along with fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, powdered milk, sandwich-sized Ziploc bags and size 5 and 6 diapers.
Speaking with Peace Arch News Thursday morning (March 26), Murray said the food bank experienced a bit of a lull in demand last week. However, she noted, there are a couple likely reasons for that.
Uncertain whether they would be able to remain open, Sources provided clients with double the usual amount of food the previous week, she said.
“We let them know they didn’t have to come in (this week) in case we had to shut down, which we didn’t.”
In addition, it is “cheque week,” when demand for food is usually down, Murray said.
That can all change swiftly, she acknowledged.
“With everyone being laid off, it will depend on how quickly they can get support from the government.”
In White Rock/South Surrey, she said the food bank – which provides support to more than 600 registered clients – served about a dozen people this week who aren’t able to register because they lack proof of address. In that case, there are special walk-in bags available.
“We don’t send them away without food.”
The way regular clients are being served has changed as well, with new safety measures in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Traditionally, people are able to come into the food bank and choose from a selection of items.
In an effort to minimize contact and maintain a two-metre distance, Sources staff have pre-bagged items for the week and people line up to collect them.
“It looks like a drive-thru here,” Murray quipped of the new process.
“Everyone is really understanding (about the shift). I think they just appreciate that we’re still giving out food.”
With many volunteers having booked off, which, Murray said, is understandable, Sources staff have stepped up to handle the bagging process.
Drivers are continuing to make the rounds of area grocery stores to collect donations, so Murray is asking donors to give at the stores rather than bring items directly to the food bank.
Monetary donations in the form of online donations or mailed cheques are also welcome.
Help is also on the way from the province, which announced late last week that food banks across British Columbia will receive emergency funding worth $3 million.
The provincial government said in a release that Food Banks BC will distribute the money among food banks province-wide because of its expertise in the management of food distribution.
The money is intended to help buy and distribute food, pay employees and cover other costs essential to the delivery of their food programs.
“Food Banks BC will assess the needs and requirements of food banks to determine the amount and timing of the distribution,” reads a government release.
“Funds will be distributed quickly and equitably to food banks across all regions of the province.”
Starting this week, distribution hours at Sources in South Surrey-White Rock will change. They will be Tuesdays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. 2 p.m.
– files from Wolf Depner, Black Press Media