Calgary Food Bank closes temporarily to shore up COVID-19 procedures

On Monday, the Calgary Food Bank temporarily ceased all operations so it could revamp its health and safety procedures amid COVID-19 concerns. Tom Andriuk / Global News

The Calgary Food Bank stopped all operations on Monday in an effort to revise its health and safety procedures.

James McAra – the CEO of the Calgary Food Bank – said the temporary closure was necessary so it could continue helping Calgarians as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We needed some time to retool our processes to make sure that we put people’s safety first,” said McAra. “[We are] making sure that we are not going to become the reason that somebody gets this very dangerous [virus].”
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McAra said part of the food bank’s new food-handling process is to reduce staffing.

“You cannot have a whole bunch of people handling your food and having random people coming in,” said McAra.

The food bank’s website reiterated that no one at the organization has the virus, adding the closure is purely precautionary and that people should be able to access the program by the end of the week.

“We expect that we should have most of our systems live [Tuesday] and Wednesday,” said McAra “By Thursday, we should be back up and running.”

But McAra said all that could change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

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“Public closures have impacted us because of available space to get food out to the people who need it,” said McAra. “There could be changes to transport… but we have a system that we know will work in a very difficult time.”

Senior Volunteers

Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee – the chair of Calgary Alliance for the Common Good – said she knows several seniors who volunteer their time at the Calgary Food Bank.

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“A good group of parishioners from St. Lawrence Anglican Church has volunteered at the food bank every Friday, and most of them who do this are retired,” said Greenwood-Lee. “I would say all of them are over 60, some of them are over 80, and I think a few of them are actually over 90.”

Greenwood-Lee said the temporary closure is a good idea if it ensures everyone’s safety.

“I understand it makes perfect sense that they have to kind of stop and press reset on the whole system,” said Greenwood-Lee “It makes sure that everybody, especially their volunteers are safe.”

Greenwood-Lee added it’s time members of the community who aren’t high risk to take over from senior volunteers.

“I think we need to let our senior citizen volunteers have a bit of a pass on volunteering at the food bank for the next few months,” said Greenwood-Lee “Those of us who are younger, need to step up and help out at the food bank in their place.”


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