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Coronavirus: 2 food banks in Okanagan changing way they fill out hampers

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Two food banks in B.C.’s Southern Interior say they are making changes in the way they distribute food because of coronavirus concerns.

Both the Central Okanagan Food Bank and the Lake Country Food Bank say for the time being, clients won’t be interacting with volunteers when it comes to selecting items for food hampers.

Instead, a client’s hamper will be pre-packaged for them.

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“The primary change, or impact to our clients, will be that they no longer come into the food bank to make their choices,” said Lake Country Food Bank manager Joy Haxton.

“We already have a history of the choices that our clients prefer; we’ll build their hampers for them, and then hampers will be released to them by appointment time or delivered.”

Earlier Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer said there were 157 cases of the new coronavirus throughout the nation.

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“Going forward, foot traffic within the Central Okanagan Food Bank will be limited to staff and volunteers only,” the Central Okanagan Food Bank said in an email to Global News.

“Clients with booked appointments are asked to arrive at your pre-scheduled appointment time and remain in your vehicle while we deliver your pre-packaged food hamper to you. Please be sure to bring your required ID.”

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The Central Okanagan Food Bank is also asking clients who are displaying symptoms of coronavirus to please stay home, isolate yourself and call local health officials,

It added that affected persons should not visit the food bank, but should instead call to arrange a dedicated pickup time.

“If COVID-19 spreads, there may be an additional impact on the Central Okanagan Food Bank and in increase in the number of community members requiring assistance,” said the food bank.

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The Central Okanagan Food Bank says it assists in upwards of 4,000 individuals every month, 33 per cent of which are children under the age of 15.

Global News has also reached out to other food banks in the Okanagan.

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