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Halifax food bank adapting to new procedures, increased demand

Local food bank adapting to new procedures, increased demand
Many are turning to charitable organizations while they wait for help from the government. Foodbanks continue to feed those in need and Jeremy Keefe reports on a Halifax organization that is keeping people safely fed during the pandemic.

Making sure those in need have food on their table has always been a top priority for the Parker Street Food & Furniture Bank, but with uncertainty around COVID-19 more people than ever are relying on them to survive.

Part of the problem is the province’s state of emergency and the closure of a number of businesses.

“This kind of made matters much worse,” explained Cynthia Louis, the director of donor relations. “We’ve heard of people panic buying and overstocking and so on. The clients we serve they don’t have that luxury to stockpile and so they have an additional fear or additional panic added on to what they’ve already been experiencing.”

“We’re even giving away extra food just to make sure,” Louis said.

READ MORE: Halifax soup kitchen in urgent need of volunteers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Parker Street typically welcomes approximately 300 clients per day but recently they’ve seen that number rise by about 50.

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The added demand is also coming at a time when they’ve had to tell a number of their senior volunteers to stay home and ramped up cleaning procedures to keep the staff and their clients, safe and healthy.

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“We’ve had to increase sanitization of the building, additional sanitization of the food pick up and distribution,” she said. “And made sure everyone was washing their hands and even now we’ve implemented social distancing.”

Staff and volunteers have been advised to stay six feet apart, as have clients who now line up outside the food bank and are brought a box of groceries, rather than entering and selecting the items they would like as they did previously.

“We’re rolling with the punches, we’re adapting as we go as we learn more about the spread of this virus,” said Louis.

Province determining how to use federal aid to support Nova Scotians
Province determining how to use federal aid to support Nova Scotians

Ultimately their goal is to help people and they say despite having to rethink their methods, they plan to continue doing just that.

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“They need us you know,” she said. “Everyday clients are coming in and they’re so grateful that we’re still open, they’re like ‘thank you so much for being open.'”

“Even though our procedures and protocols have changed our mandate to serve the community, especially those that are in need, it remains the same.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia announces rent-deferral program for small businesses, iPads for seniors

All accepted food donations must come from a grocery store and any donations brought in by members of the public are being sanitized.

In lieu of non-perishable food items, anyone who’d like to help their cause is asked to consider monetary donations at this time and encourage anyone who is healthy, willing and able, to give them a call as they’re always happy to take volunteers.